New Beginnings: A Reflection on Starting Kindergarten

This post is by contributor Sarah Bendeich of Oesch and Doots.

This year Doots starts kindergarten. It’s the beginning of her school career, and she will continue (all going to plan) at the same school for the next fourteen years. She’s horrified – because her friends aren’t going with her (they’re all going to different schools), and because the uniform isn’t yellow (her very favourite colour). But also, I suspect, because it’s new and relatively unfamiliar (there was only a single orientation session in November).

We’ve not really talked about school much over Christmas, we decided to let her relax and play and enjoy her summer without the pressure of something she perceives as quite frightening looming on the horizon.

Instead, we’ve been thinking of ways to increase her sense of independence around the house. For example, we gave her a CD player for Christmas. It lives in her room and I showed her how to use it and she enjoys retreating to her room to listen to music (her choice) whenever she likes. She’s also been setting the table and helping out in the garden.

The author at kinder - in her beloved uniform.

Her fears have brought my own memories of kindergarten to the surface. I don’t remember the whole experience but I remember clearly how I felt at kinder – and it was not all swings and slides. Mostly I felt little, lost and lonely. I remember gripping the high wrought iron gates and crying loudly as my mum walked away.

I also remember the boredom of ‘rest time’. We’d return inside after a post-lunch play to find the floor filled with little mattresses and blankets. We had to lie down with classical music playing and I wondered if all the other kids were pretending to be asleep  too – or if they really were asleep. All I wanted to do was get up and play. Or go home.

But I have happy memories too, like going to the music room and learning new songs and singing together in a group. I can still remember the sunshine pouring in through the big windows as we sang Eidelweiss. It was a beautiful experience for me and I sang it a lullaby to my children when they were tiny, so the effect of that melody has stayed with me for life.

I also remember how excited I was to own and wear my school uniform, complete with matching hair ribbons and knickers. I remember the way my Mum decorated my smock and lunch box with permanent markers – she printed my name and drew flowers – and seeing the flowers during my school day was as comforting as the squeeze of her hand.

Doots in 2010 - her first day of preschool with her yellow 'big kid' backpack.

So when the uniform shop opens after Australia Day, Doots and I will wander over and buy her uniform. We’ll start talking a little more about new challenges and I’ll listen to whatever’s on her mind.

I’m searching our library catalogue for story books about starting school and we’ll read these, we’ll take our time and let the ideas swim around. I’ll serve her lunch in her lunch box to make sure she can undo it all by herself, and we’ll gradually wind bedtime back to a more suitable hour.

We’ll have another play-date with the one girl from preschool who’ll be joining her at kinder. And we’ll make heart hands  (inspiration here) so she can have a little bit of me there with her. And I’ll write her name on all of her items – and I might draw a few flowers too.

And when school starts, I think she’ll be just fine. I don’t know how well I’ll be doing – but I’ll try my best to hold it together, at least until I get back to the car!

Do you have a child starting kindergarten this year?  How are you preparing them for this new beginning?  And how are you preparing yourself???

{Image source top: Heather Simpson-Bluhm}


  1. I’m so delighted to see my dear friend, Sarah, here sharing her ever-thoughtful insights. She’s such a caring and compassionate mum and takes her mothering seriously but in a fun way, too. My eldest did Kinder last year and it was gorgeous watching him grow in skills and confidence. Now he’s starting Prep, or ‘real school’ this year – so much lies ahead of us! J x

    1. Jane, thanks for your sweet words! I imagine that Prep is another big ‘beginning’ – going from part time to full time… as though he’s tested the waters and now it’s time to jump in!

  2. My girls started school last year and even though they were very keen to go it was still pretty daunting! One thing we did was go and play in the school grounds over the holidays. We’d have a play on the equipment that I knew the preps (kindergarten is called prep here in Vic) were allowed to play on, and wander around and check out where the canteen was, where the toilets were and that kind of stuff. For my nervous girls that was really helpful to alleviate some worries…

    And yes… getting the school uniform was a huge winner in our house!

    I hope your first day goes smoothly for all of you and that this year is a wonderful one!

    1. Great idea to play in the school grounds before it all begins. I’m going to investigate! At the moment we say hello to kinder every time we drive past… not sure if it’s ‘open’ or not though. Oh, and isn’t the nomenclature so confusing? It deserves a blog post in its own right! Here in Tasmania we have kinder as the first year of ‘school’ (for 4 year olds), then prep (for 5 year olds), grade 1, etc. And your 3 year old can go to pre-kinder or pre-school, but these are optional, and privately run. It’s quite different to the community style kindergartens (for 3 and 4 year olds) in Victoria. It took me a good few years to get my head around that when we moved here from Melbourne! I wonder if this will change when the federal government introduce the standard starting age…

      Thanks for your great tips!

  3. It’s lovely that you are so prepared and I’m sure Doots will have such a good time. You’re lucky to have a uniform (even if not yellow 😉 ) – I struggle every day to dress my girl, no uniforms here – she would wear a frilly twirly skirt every day if she could, snow or not. Maybe Doots can get some yellow undies!!! Yellow lunch box?
    I look forward to seeing what brilliant ideas you come up with for school lunches too.
    Enjoy your last little bit of holidays. x

    1. Hi Rhi, the uniform is a tracksuit – a far cry from a twirly skirt but so comfy and practical. Yellow undies – I’m always on the lookout for those! And the lunchbox, don’t get me started on how difficult that purchase is going to be. I have the perfect lunchbox in mind (bpa, pvc and lead free, little compartments to keep food separate and eliminate need for wrap, easy for little hands to open, strong, affordable, yellow!). Of course it doesn’t exist. I’d settle for safe and easy to open – I might have to post about the lunchbox if I ever find it!

      1. I don’t know if they tick all of the boxes but have you looked at the Bento style lunchboxes at There are definitely some shades of yellow and some cute fairy tale characters. Christine, the owner, is lovely and I am sure would be happy to answer any questions you have 🙂

        1. Thanks for the great tip Christie, I’ve just had a little look-see. Very very cute!

  4. My boy was a Kinder Kid last year and my oldest girl heads there this year. It is the biggest learning curve a family can go through (pun intended!) but SOOOOO satisfying. x

  5. PS – I think your darling daughter will thank her lucky stars in years to come that the uniform isn’t yellow… does yellow actually suit anyone!? x

    1. I know. A yellow uniform would be horrendous and cruel! And I know you’re right about the satisfaction. I’m confident she’s going to love it once it’s not so scary new.

  6. says:

    Loved your story. My first Kindergartener that I sent off to school is now 33 years old. Like him his two sisters followed and then there have now been 3 grandsons that have gone off to Kindergarten. It is such a special year in a child’s life and I applaud all those wonderful teachers out in the world who make it a special year. Thanks for the walk down memory lane for me. 🙂 joyce

    1. I take my hat off to kindergarten teachers too! They do seem to be very special group of professionals and love reading blogs by Kinder teachers 🙂

  7. Di Phillips says:

    Hi all Nurturing Parents with children entering a new and exciting phase!
    May I suggest you record your own experiences, past and present, in a personally created Story Book? Release your Inner or Little Author and capture a Pre or Starting School milestone in your own words to enjoy for years to come.
    Happy Days, Di

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