School's in ... Anthony and Angie McGregor at home with their children Lucia and William. Lucia is going into kindergarten this year. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Five-year-old Lucia McGregor can already count.
"Maths is actually easy," she says. "And I can write words when mummy tells me the letters and I can read a bit too."
She's parading her new school uniform and shiny shoes, confident and looking forward to starting kindergarten this week.
Lucia and William McGregor. Lucia says she isn?t worried about starting school at all. ?I think it will be fun."
"I think I'll like making new friends and going to the canteen and getting a lunch order too."
All the important things.
Lucia will attend Curtin Primary School, along with quite a gang - "Tilly, Max, Mia, Angus, Harry and Hugh" - from North Curtin Preschool.
Isabella Tammaro, 12, is heading into year 7 at Daramalan College. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Her parents, Angela and Anthony, think the transition to "big school" will be quite smooth for Lucia. They're happy with the orientation program through the preschool and the "lovely group" of parents who will continue through to the primary school.
"A sense of community was really important to us," Angela says.
"Academically we're happy too, but having all the kids go through together makes it less daunting for all of them."
Lucia is their eldest child - there's William, 3, and Angela is pregnant with their third child. ("Isn't that what you're meant to do when your eldest goes to school? Get pregnant," she laughs.)
The family sees Lucia starting school as a big milestone, but they say she is more than ready.
"I feel quite confident in that regard," Angela says. "She'll be six in April and I think being a little older will help her. We did think about sending her last year but it was the right thing to delay it. We know that now."
Lucia says she isn't worried about starting school at all.
"I think it will be fun. We'll do lots of things like craft and going to school assemblies and playing at the playground."
Isabella Tammaro, 12, is past all those things. Heading into year 7 at Daramalan College, she's an old hand at craft and canteens and playgrounds.
She is looking forward to the range of subjects at high school, from French to woodwork and graphic design.
"I'm looking forward to becoming more independent and meeting new people and taking on new challenges," Isabella says.
"If there's anything I'm worried about it's getting lost in a bigger school."
Isabella's elder brother, Michael, is going into year 9 at Daramalan so she knows what to expect and is familiar with the campus and some of the teachers.
"Just knowing a few things has helped me feel more confident about the whole thing."
It's also made the transition easier for her mother Anita.
"I was worried about Michael going into high school and he's done really well and is very happy," Anita says.
"I know Bella will be fine. I'm excited for her, she's totally ready for a new challenge."
Both Lucia and Isabella are off to a great start with supportive families behind them, says Dr Thomas Nielsen, from the University of Canberra.
An associate professor with the Faculty of Education, Nielsen has served on several of the Australian government's values and well-being education projects, and has a special interest in student well-being.
"The research is quite clear that the single most important factor is a child's parents, their caregivers, give children a secure base and a source of empathy and love," he says.
"For example, if a child is a little nervous about starting school [it's important] that parents listen and reassure the child that it's normal to feel that way. If they take the mystery out of it and just be there for their child."
He says it was also very important to establish routines.
"There is strong evidence that if parents can help the child keep a good routine of sleep, of exercise, of diet and that there is creativity and play in their life and unstructured time and freedom and playing, all of that will help greatly.
"If their room is their little safe haven, it's clean and orderly and tidy and a place for them to get away. Being in the natural environment, being outside, on a regular basis, is crucial too.
"The more we have these things in our lives in general, the better we can deal with any stress."
If all these things are in place, Nielsen says the transition to primary or secondary school should be much easier. There are also different strategies families can apply to stay organised. He suggests wall calendars, age-appropriate lists of things that need to be packed or done each day, parents placing importance on this organisation and modelling good behaviours.
And what about tips for parents dealing with the transition? How should mum and dad handle it when their child is leaving for school on the first day?
"All those things I mentioned before, they work for parents too. They're general principles for healthy human living."