Preschool to post school: Key milestones

About Catholic Schools asked parents and students: What were the highlights, and challenges, of their transition at key times within their school life?

GeorgiaThe Preschooler

Georgia O’Brien, 2, Platinum Preschool Randwick

“Nurturing, love and care for children is always the most important thing a parent can give their child at this age,” says Georgia’s mum, Jo O’Brien. “Even though your child’s activities may change in size and the scale, and their level of independence grows as they get older, babies aged 0-2 years need excellent routines. I believe they need to be hugged more, nurtured more and require closer connections with their carers in smaller, cosier, homelike environments, which are able to foster important milestones like crawling or pulling themselves up along furniture.”

“The other most important thing in your child’s development at this age is sleep and nutrition! The most challenging part is dealing with mother’s guilt – walking away and leaving your child with someone you don’t know. The reality in Sydney is that both parents may need to return to work. I think that you never get rid of ‘mother guilt’ but if you choose the care that feels right, then the guilt will disappear. The first few weeks are always hard.”


MassimoThe Kindergartener

Massimo Pelosi, 5, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Primary Randwick

Massimo’s mum said the school’s orientation program was helpful in familiarising Massimo with the layout of his new school, how to get around it, his new teacher, older kids and his Year 6 buddy.

“It helped us prepare for a new environment, ensuring we wore the correct uniform and had pens, pencils, notebooks and other equipment he needed ready,” Mrs Pelosi added. “At home, we also practiced the upcoming morning and bedtime routine a few days beforehand so we could get into a regular pattern and not be late on his first day. I emphasised the importance of eating breakfast so that he would have energy to focus and learn new things.

“Every time we passed the school, I also reminded him that that’s where he would be starting big school and making new friends.” Mum had no first-day tears thanks to a few practice runs, and Massimo was not nervous at all.


AntonioFirst Holy Communicant

Antonio Portolesi, 8, St Gertrude’s Catholic Primary Smithfield

“His First Holy Communion is something he’ll cherish all his life. I did. When I think back to my childhood, holding Christ in my hands for the very first time and receiving him was a very special moment. It was a big deal for me and I’m hoping it will be a big deal for him,” Mrs Portolesi said.

“Since Antonio’s reconciliation we have seen a conversion of heart and he is trying a little harder every day to be a better person and have a good relationship with our Lord.  It’s important to me that my children live out their faith everyday throughout their lives by keeping Christ in the centre of their lives. Antonio has been taught this from an early age, but after making this sacrament it has made it all real for him and we see him applying it.  He will learn to gain strength from Christ in times of hardship and this year he will finally be able to take Christ himself – and that’s very special.”




The New Highschooler

Jake Angelis, 12, De La Salle College Revesby Heights

“The homework has been a challenge because I got into the extension class. I’ve had to do two hours of homework each day. I want to not just do my homework, I want to do it well and make a good first impression.

The highlight so far this year was the swimming carnival. That was a fun time. It’s a lot different to swimming carnivals in primary school, mostly because we couldn’t swim 25 metres – it was either 50 metres or nothing. There are a lot of things I didn’t expect. A small one is having to carry your bag around with you to each lesson every day.”





Jade & AshleyThe Friends

Ashley Finegan & Jade Cameron, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College Kensington

Ashley: “I didn’t know anyone when I first came here, so I met people through orientation day activities and I met Jade at the swimming carnival. We both like to swim and do cross country, so we both had the same interests. Getting used to all of the different classrooms was a challenge. A few of the friends I made weren’t in the same class so I made friends in other classes.

“At the beginning of Year 7 I was in this really big group and there wasn’t a lot of time to for everyone to talk to each other. I’m still friends with a few of them but we’ve kind of drifted apart. There were no arguments. We just didn’t talk as often, and only smiled when we passed each other.”

Jade: “I came from quite a small school and had one friend here, so getting to know more people was what I wanted to achieve coming to OLSH. It helped me to get through the first term because I had friends to support me and made learning part of a friendly atmosphere.

“Another transitioning activity we did in Year 7 was peer support every fortnight where the Year 10 students led activities with us. That helped us to make friends and get to know the school better.

“I met Ashley in literacy. We had similar interests and talked and talked so invited her into our group and it expanded a bit. It’s good to know a variety of girls with different interests.”


IgnatiusThe Sporty Achiever

Ignatius Mitchell, 12, Marcellin College Randwick

“I’ve been playing basketball since Kindergarten and Rugby League since I was six years old. Last year I made the state development camp for Rugby League and the state team for basketball. It was good to have the opportunity.

“The Pacific Schools Games in Adelaide last year was a big highlight. We won silver medals. It was fun, and a good way to improve and see what the other states and countries are like with their sports. There are lots of challenges. There are plenty of good sportsmen and it’s pretty hard when you get to those levels because you play all the others. The Mackillop team I was on won state last year. We worked together and that was a big part of winning. You have to get your team into the rhythm of the game. Once you start communicating it’s easier to work as a team.

“For club [Sydney Comets] we’re hoping to make the nationals this year in Terrigal. I’ll trial for the school team in basketball and Rugby League too.”


AlanaThe VET student entering the workforce

Alana Samrani, 16, Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College Burwood

Although she fit into the strong academic culture of her previous school well, Alana opted for a non-ATAR HSC pathway and a School-Based Apprenticeship to pursue her dream career.

“I already work in a real estate office at Caringbah two days a week and have alternate days to suit my timetable at school.  Hopefully I’ll get my Certificate of Registration in June and next year go back to TAFE to complete a Certificate IV to get my real estate licence. By 20 I am hoping to open my own business.

“To do TAFE and a school based apprenticeship as well as a second job outside of school is very challenging. I’m only at school two and a half days a week and it’s very flexible with the timetable because the school works around us. I use my free study periods to catch up on school work.

“The reason I transitioned to this school is because I knew 100 per cent that I wanted to go to TAFE and into real estate. I knew I didn’t need an ATAR because I wasn’t going to go to uni. The transition was really easy, going from a mainstream school at St Ursula’s College Kingsgrove that was very academic to one where that aspect is pared back. The teachers help us to develop into adults and be ready to go into the workforce.”


DomenicThe University Hopeful

Dominic Beretta, 17, Good Samaritan Catholic College Hinchinbrook

After watching older siblings work through the HSC and make choices for life beyond the qualification’s exams Dominic, whose twin brother also attends the College, is ready for his turn.

“I do mainly Maths-orientated subjects then some HSIE subjects. Maths, Physics, Economics, Business Studies – I wanted to do technical subjects because I was thinking of doing project management or civil engineering at uni. Picking these will make it somewhat easier to understand the content if I do end up going to uni.

“To get all the knowledge of one year into pages of study notes was very time consuming. From Year 11 to Year 12 getting the content all together in the one place and revising everything has been a massive challenge. Going from Year 11 to year 12 you feel much more valued by the teachers, and like you can relate to them more closely. Retreat was a highlight. After a long three terms of Year 11 you got to relax and build a deeper level of friendship with your friends.

“Swimming carnivals are another highlight. The Year 12 group leads them. It’s a large responsibility to take on and you have to oversee things. The skills you take from year 12 will definitely help in the future.”

Related content:

Preschool to post school: Navigating the transition

Transition tips from a full-time working mum

Get into a high school frame of mind

Subject selection: How to choose?

Journey through your child’s grief

Teacher of the term: Sr Angela Nguyen



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