We all remember our first day of school – the excitement and fear of stepping into an educational journey that can set us up for life.
Research suggests that good transitions in and out of early childhood education can lead to good life outcomes for a person.
Emeritus professor from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Aline-Wendy Dunlop, who visited New Zealand last year, said all the literature, including psychological and offending literature, shows that if things are going well for a person by the time they hit 25, then it is possible to attribute life success to a good early childhood experience.
The University of Auckland’s Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study found the most common difficulties for a child starting primary school include adapting to a new routine, being separated from family and getting used to new rules.
‘Ready for Big School’ has been created to ease the transition from early childhood education to primary school by using role-play to explore the idea of going to school for the first time.
Tutagalevao said he designed the app to help boost a child’s confidence to practise routines and become familiar with what to expect when they attend full-time school.
“I wanted to provide a simple and interactive way to help children get the best start with transitioning to primary school: focusing on routines and self-help skills, matching, recognising colours, letters, shapes, counting and emotions.
“This is a game changer to empower and boost a child’s confidence to become a more settled and school-ready child to what will be a lifetime of learning, help reduce a busy parent’s anxiety and complement many school readiness programmes throughout the world”.
Children might only attend a few school visits to get used to the school environment and observe but they’re not practising situations, he said.
“I believe that the more toddlers and preschoolers and new entrants use this app, the more it will boost their confidence in knowing what to expect when they start school.
“I’m excited about the potential growth of the app here in New Zealand and in other countries. The app is truly multicultural and is available in Hindi, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, English and Te Reo Maori with more languages to come.
“This will benefit new immigrant families with preschoolers here in New Zealand.”
The app is not just about educating children but also keeping cultures and languages alive to support communities and increase awareness of cultural diversity, he said.
It is also aimed at helping children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by providing audio and visual cues to help children with sensory and visual needs understand transitioning to school better.
‘Ready for Big School’ is the first ever social story learning app tool to help preschoolers stimulate and practise going to school for the first time by combining all necessary skills for them to be school ready, Tutagalevao said.
It covers concepts such as confidently approaching tasks and morning routines, following instructions, forming friendships, working in groups, being courageous in trying new things, coping with emotions and learning about words and numbers.
The app, for children aged two to five, was launched on Google Play Store and App Store earlier this year.