Growing up in New Zealand

Issue: Volume 97, Number 12

Posted: 16 July 2018
Reference #: 1H9jbH

Results of the Transition to school report have now been released.

Most Kiwi preschoolers are ready to start school and settle relatively quickly, according to the latest findings of the Growing Up in New Zealand  study.

The latest report recorded the experiences of families as their children started primary school.

Among many of the positive findings, it found mothers tried to be active in school life with
88 per cent of respondents reporting some level of formal and informal involvement.

And 90 per cent of primary caregivers, usually mothers, were satisfied or very satisfied with the effect their child’s current school was having on their educational, social, emotional and physical needs.

Ninety-eight per cent of children had attended some form of early childhood education in the six months before starting school. Almost all children in the study had visited their school, class or teacher before starting school, and
24 per cent of mothers reported their child’s early learning service had an organised programme that included at least one school visit.

The most commonly reported reasons for a positive start were that the child was feeling ready to start school (76 per cent), feeling happy to go to school (68 per cent) and feeling excited about starting school (64 per cent).

The Transition to school report is the eighth in the Growing Up in New Zealand series of surveys, following 6,800 children from birth to adulthood.

Transition an important milestone

Study director, University of Auckland’s Associate Professor Susan Morton, said moving to school was an important milestone and that the report contributed to our understanding of the transition.

“Most mothers and children adapted to the change and the school routine in less than a month, though we did find that some mothers were still experiencing difficulties six months after their child had started school.”

While most parents reported settling quickly, about 25 per cent of respondent mums reported their child had had at least one change in classroom teacher while around 10 per cent of children moved schools at least once during the first year at school.

Some mothers reported worries about their child not making friends, liking their new school or being separated from their parents.

For children, the most common difficulties were adapting to new routines, being separated from family and getting used to new rules.

The report also reported on how many children completed before-school checks.

The findings in the latest report add to a growing body of knowledge Growing Up in New Zealand has already gathered during the before birth and pre-school periods.

Professor Morton added: “It lays the platform for data collection waves as the children transition to adolescence and into adulthood.”

About Growing Up in New Zealand

The University of Auckland and UniServices Ltd Growing Up in New Zealand study has been specifically designed to provide unique information about what shapes children’s early development in the context of 21st-century New Zealand and how interventions might be targeted at the earliest opportunity to give every New Zealand child the best start in life.

The study’s eight-year data collection wave is currently underway, with the participants now aged eight to nine years old. For the first time, during this data collection wave, the children are speaking for themselves, providing new and unique insights.

Growing Up in New Zealand is the largest study of children growing up in New Zealand, enrolling more than 6,800 children.

Growing Up in New Zealand is led by a multidisciplinary team at the University of Auckland. The contract for the study’s core government funding was managed by Superu until October 2017 and is now managed by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). 

Want to find out more?

Go to:

The transition to school(external link) report and a snapshot(external link) of the report.

To register your interest for the upcoming Auckland-based seminar and/or Data Access Workshop on the Transition to school report and the study’s 72-month data collection wave, email

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 16 July 2018

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