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What Will My Child Learn in Prep?

Queensland schools base their educational structure including what children learn in Prep on The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). It has eight learning areas (subjects) and strives to provide a modern curriculum for every student in Australia.

Included in the content of learning areas are seven general capabilities intended to help prepare young children to learn, live and work in the 21st century.

The Australian Curriculum is designed to develop:

  • successful learners
  • confident and creative individuals
  • active and informed young people who are ready to take their place in society.

It sets the goal for what all students should learn as they progress through their school life. There are three cross-curriculum priorities that are also a focus across the learning areas:

  1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Histories and Culture
  2. Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia
  3. Sustainability

The First Year of School – Prep IS compulsory in Queensland

The Prep year IS now compulsory in Queensland and over 90% of eligible children attend Prep. You may choose to delay your child starting Prep, but when they start their school ‘career’, it must be Prep. In their first year of school, a student will learn in Prep through interactions with others, experimentation, practice and play in the classroom and school community. Priority is given to literacy and numeracy development as these are the foundations upon which further learning is built. Opportunities to develop literacy and numeracy are found in all subjects but particularly in English and Mathematics. Learning in a classroom and belonging to a school community are key to the first year at school.

What to expect your kids to learn at prep

English in Prep

In the first year of school, students view, listen to and enjoy texts that entertain and inform, such as picture books or, rhymes. They begin to learn to read and create texts.

Typically, students will learn in Prep:

  • Communicate with others in familiar situations
  • Read stories with one or more sentences, pictures and familiar vocabulary
  • Recognise rhyming words, syllables and sounds
  • Recognise letters and the most common sounds the letters make
  • Listen to, read and view picture books, stories, poetry, information books, films and performances
  • Write some words
  • Recognise some words and develop skills in ‘sounding out’ words
  • Create their own texts such as giving information orally or in writing; presenting a narrative, which may include pictures.
Prep english curriculum
Expect to see these stuck into a scrapbook completed by your Preppie

For more information about developing English from Prep to Year 10 through the Australian Curriculum click here.

Mathematics in Prep

In the first year of school, students develop a sense of number, order, sequence, pattern and position in relation to familiar settings.

Typically, students will learn in Prep:

  • Connect numbers, their names and quantities up to 20
  • Count numbers in sequences up to 20, continue patterns and compare lengths of objects
  • Use materials to model problems, sort objects and discuss answers
  • Group and sort shapes and objects
  • Connect events with days of the week
  • Develop an understanding of location words, such as above, outside, left.

For more information about developing Maths from Prep to Year 10 through the Australian Curriculum click here.

Health & Physical Education in Prep

Students learn through active play, and practise fundamental movement skills. They learn about how their body is growing and changing, about their strengths, how to be healthy, safe and active, and about respectful relationships with others.

Typically, students will learn in Prep:

  • Use their strengths to help others
  • Name trusted people in their community, who can help them stay safe and healthy
  • Describe emotions of people who are happy, sad, excited, tired, angry, scared or confused
  • Group foods into ‘eat always’ and ‘eat sometimes’
  • Move in different speeds and directions, be aware of others and follow rules
  • Play games from different cultures
  • Move in time with a partner when music is played.

For more information about developing Health & Physical Education from Prep to Year 10 through the Australian Curriculum click here.

Prep is a GREAT time to improve your child’s water confidence and safety. You can find any number of great pools near you that are perfect! 

Humanities and Social Sciences in Prep

By experimenting, practising and playing in familiar situations, students use their natural curiosity to make sense of their world, and to develop history and geography knowledge and skills about people and places.

Typically, students will learn in Prep:

  • Explore their personal world, including personal and family histories investigate places they and their families live in and belong to
  • Find out about other places through stories told in books, or by family members and other people, and how people feel about places
  • Explore why places are special and how students and other people can care for places.

Science in Prep

Through exploration and observation, students learn how science works. They explore their world to find answers to questions.

Typically, students will learn in Prep:

  • Explore the needs of living things
  • Investigate the properties of everyday materials explore changes in our world, for example, the weather
  • Explore how things move.
Prep science activity

For more information about developing Science from Prep to Year 10 through the Australian Curriculum click here.

The Arts in Prep

Students share their experiences and understanding of themselves through exploring the arts and artworks.

Typically, students will learn in Prep:

  • In Dance, watch others dance and respect those around them when they are dancing
  • In Drama, use role play to act out familiar events or stories
  • In Media Arts, use a camera to record images for others to view
  • In Music, explore sounds when listening, singing and making music
  • In Visual Arts, respond to and create a variety of artworks by drawing and painting.

Technologies in Prep

Through exploration, design and problem-solving, students learn in Prep how technologies work.

Typically, students will learn in Prep:

  • In Design and Technologies design and create solutions to challenges through guided play and by safely using materials and equipment
  • In Digital Technologies work safely online, represent data as pictures, symbols and diagrams, and sequence steps to solve simple problems.

For more information about developing Technologies from Prep to Year 10 through the Australian Curriculum click here.

Languages in Prep

Students may have an opportunity to learn a language other than English.

Typically, students will learn in Prep:

  • Imitate sounds, rhythms and patterns of a language
  • Use simple words and phrases, and non-verbal communication strategies in familiar situations
  • Read and write simple words with visual support.

Wondering what your child will be learning throughout primary school? Check out our articles below:

This article was published in Issue 14 of our print magazine, February/March 2016.

Photo of author

Amanda Mergler

Dr Amanda Mergler is an expert in child and adolescent development. Her PhD focused on personal responsibility and she has published papers on delayed Prep entry.. She has been an academic at Queensland University of Technology for over 10 years and is currently a Guidance Officer at Federation University. Her academic credentials together with her advocacy work makes her a credible source and highly reputable expert on the Families Magazine team.

2 thoughts on “What Will My Child Learn in Prep?”

  1. What happens in entry to Year 1 to a non-Autistic “gifted” child , 2 years ahead in Reading and Maths , with advanced Scientific interests who has not completed Prep?
    Does this child have to attend Prep with peers less academically qualified and risk boredom & associated behaviour problems?
    Is there a test for the child’s ability that will admit him at least to Year 1?

    • Hi Kathleen, These questions are best asked of your potential school, but what I do know is that Prep is compulsory. There is no way to skip it despite the abilities of the younger learner. Janine (Editor)


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