Tim Vane-Tempest St Nicholas of Myra Primary Penrith
Tim Vane-Tempest with some of last year's kindergarten students.


With 2024 now well underway, the countdown is officially on for the school year to begin. Though for many it's just the same old stuff, the transition for those going to new schools for the first time can be a little bit trickier.

Tim Vane-Tempest, Principal at St Nicholas of Myra Primary School, said that he's expecting to have another full class of 30 kindergarten students starting in 2024. As per usual, he's expecting an array of emotions from parents upon walking through the gates on day one.

"For more experienced parents it's not so bad, because you've got a sense of the school and the community and the teachers and what their values are, but for new parents there's certainly an anxiety around handing over your child, especially those children with additional needs - they're always on very high alert looking for any signs that things aren't going well," he said.

His biggest piece of advice to parents is to build a relationship between home and school.

"I think that they should engage with their child's teacher as often as they can, they need to connect with the school and be involved in school activities as early as they possibly can and as much as they possibly can, and not be afraid to ask questions. If they've got a question, it's important to them, and it needs to be answered," he said.

In the time leading up to the big first day, Vane-Tempest recommends preparing your child as best as possible, and making sure they know what's happening, and where they're going.

"Parents should be taking their children past their new school as they're getting close towards the end of the holidays, talk to them regularly about them going to school, show them their uniform, get them to wear their uniform, and wear their new shoes in if they're getting leather shoes, as that can sometimes cause an issue with blisters," he said.

"If you know some other children who are going, it can also be good to make contact, get some playdates, and form some friendships with parents and with children."

Though the first day is always hard, Vane-Tempest says to trust the teachers.

"If they're having trouble leaving you, give them a kiss, tell them you love them, and leave straight away, because teachers are used to handling these things, and five minutes after the parent is gone, they tend to settle and find their feet," he said.

Peta Sparkes and Penola Catholic College Students
Charlie Thomas (Vice Captain), Ben Norris (Captain), Peta Sparkes (Principal), Imelda Wright (Captain) and Montana La Rosa (Vice Captain)


On the other end of the spectrum, transitioning into Year 7 from primary school can be just as difficult, according to Penola Catholic College Principal Peta Sparks, though of course there are many exciting aspects for students.

"They've been big fish, and now they're little fish," she said.

"I think they would be super excited to now be coming into different subjects. The kids are often very excited to get into a science lab, to get into a TAS workshop, and to be out in the ag farm."

For kids who will be meeting an abundance of new people at high school, Sparkes said it's most important to be kind.

"The start of relationships are exciting and fun and full of energy, but you're still trying to work out who's who around the place, and I think if you're kind to everybody, then that shows you to be at your best." she said.

For parents, Sparkes noted how important it is to be present - despite how 'embarrassing' it might be.

"Even though their child might say to them, 'Don't come into the school, or 'Don't come to that night', I would absolutely say, keep coming," she said.

"The kids are trying to fit in, and they're worried about what the other kids will see, but if the parents just keep coming, that continually shows their love."


Written By

The Western Weekender

The Western Weekender
Penrith's leading provider of local news and community updates.

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