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A mix of excitement, nerves and sometimes tears – it can be hard to navigate the transition from preschool to primary school. It’s a game-changer for kids, parents and teachers alike. Just ask My and her mum, Thanh, who recently went through one of life’s big changes together. “It’s a big adjustment, but we were prepared,” says Thanh, who lives with her family in Vietnam’s Hoa Binh province.

Last year, both My and her mum took part in ‘Big School Training’ at their local preschool, Thuong Tien Preschool. Parents and teachers from the community learnt how to support young children in the transition period from preschool to primary school. The training focused on strategies to help preschoolers build confidence, make new friends, learn routines, and develop a sense of belonging within a new school setting.

“Starting school might have been scary but it didn’t feel strange because I had already visited and met lots of kids,” says My, now in Year 1.

As part of their training, teachers were encouraged to organise primary school visits so preschoolers like My could experience a ‘Day in the Life’ at primary school, and see what they had to look forward to the following year. My and her friends had the opportunity to visit their local primary school twice before graduating preschool, participating in activities such as decorating classrooms, making toys and music lessons.

Primary and preschoolers students take part in a colouring session together in Vietnam.


“My teacher took me to visit my old [Thuong Tien] preschool. My favourite part was guiding preschool students on how to hold a pen and colour. I like that I get to go back and have preschool students call me ‘big brother’. I’m very happy to help them.”

Loch, 7


As part of their training, teachers were encouraged to organise primary school visits so preschoolers like My could experience a ‘Day in the Life’ at primary school, and see what they had to look forward to the following year. My and her friends had the opportunity to visit their local primary school twice before graduating preschool, participating in activities such as decorating classrooms, making toys and music lessons.

“I remember my preschool teacher taking me and my friends to meet the teachers and students at a primary school,” recalls My. “I also got to see the classrooms and library. My favourite part was all the activities, especially getting to read and sing with the big kids.”

One of these ‘big kids’ was Loc, now in Year 2, who says he has enjoyed helping younger children prepare for primary school, “My teacher took me to visit my old [Thuong Tien] preschool. My favourite part was guiding preschool students on how to hold a pen and colour. I like that I get to go back and have preschool students call me ‘big brother’. I’m very happy to help them.”


Levelling up

Previously, teachers at Thuong Tien Preschool had limited skills organising care and educational activities for students, and they had difficulties in coordinating with primary school teachers, says Ms. Phuong, the preschool’s principal. Instead, they would focus solely on teaching preschool skills.

“I used to only support teachers with basic knowledge and skills such as how to teach children to recognise and pronounce 24 letters and 10 numbers correctly, how to hold a pen, how to colour, and some other skills such as combing and tying up hair and putting on clothes,” she explains. “I honestly did not spend much time coordinating with primary schools to support children during the transition period.”

All that changed when Ms. Phuong signed up for ChildFund’s training courses. As principal, she saw firsthand how kids and their parents were struggling to navigate such a big life change and was eager to make the move as seamless as possible. After two years of hard work, actively engaging in training sessions and workshops, Thuong Tien preschool has seen positive changes for students, teachers and parents in the community.

“I used to only support teachers with basic knowledge and skills such as how to teach children to recognise and pronounce 24 letters and 10 numbers correctly, how to hold a pen, how to colour, and some other skills such as combing and tying up hair and putting on clothes.”

Ms. Phuong


Ms. Phuong says her teachers now integrate content to support children during the transition period into daily school activities and have become more confident in communicating with parents. They also regularly coordinate with elementary school teachers.

Parents have also gained invaluable skills and knowledge to help their children through this tricky time. Thanh says she became more aware of My’s needs and how to best nurture her development both in the classroom and at home, “My told me she gets to draw pictures to help the teacher decorate the classroom. She used to be shy, but now she seems happy and more confident.”

Thanh is proud of the progress both she and My have made over the past year, noting that their bond is stronger than ever. “I always spend at least two hours each night studying with her. I do not pressure her and compliment her when she does something well. I have helped familiarise her with math and physical exercises. I learnt all of this from ChildFund’s training and from a workshop at My’s preschool,” she says. “My is very comfortable at school, and her language skills have improved. She is much more independent.”

Phuong speaking at Vietnam’s provincial level workshop for teachers about how to best support preschool students during the transition period.



It takes a village!

Collaboration and communication – plus the right resources and guidance – are essential when preparing preschool students for primary school. With the support of ChildFund and dedicated educators such as Ms. Phuong and enthusiastic teachers and parents, Thuong Tien Preschool is now thriving. Recently, the preschool was awarded a coveted ‘Level 1 Standard’ by the People’s Committee of Hoa Binh province, a title many schools strive for.

Ms. Phuong says starting school isn’t as daunting for her preschoolers, who are now better at dealing with change. Students are bolder and more confident when participating in lessons and extracurriculars at school, as they are more familiar with the activities and feel supported and nurtured by their teachers and parents.

“To effectively support students in the transition period we need schools, families and children to work together in harmony,” says Ms. Phuong. “All three elements are important. Schools can create an effective learning environment while families help support children’s learning and development at home, and naturally we want children to feel happy going to school and eager to learn.”

Find out more about ChildFund in Vietnam.

“It’s hard to imagine my life without digital technology now. It has become an essential part of my daily routine, connecting me to the world and my friends.” – Pypo, 16

Growing up in a digital world means children today face new, constantly evolving challenges to their health and wellbeing. From cyberbullying, exposure to explicit content or grooming, identify theft, and too much screen time, there are an increasing number of risks for children and young people online.

In Laos, teens like Pypo, a 16-year-old student from Sayabouly Province, are learning to protect themselves online while developing life skills for a brighter and safer future. Pypo participated in the ChildFund-supported National Children’s Forum, an opportunity that provided him with the resources and space to think critically about how he spends his time online, learn digital and life skills, and vocalise issues affecting children and young people in his community.   

Across the three-day event, children and young people participate in activities and training sessions, discuss their digital habits and healthy internet usage, and are encouraged to share their new skills and knowledge with friends and their communities. For Pypo, participating in the forum – and learning more about online safety – was an easy decision.

“It’s hard to imagine my life without digital technology. It’s become an essential part of my day, just connecting me to my friends and the world,” he explained, adding that it was important to balance his time online and understand what safe internet usage looks like.

“During the pandemic, online classes kept me updated with schoolwork and I could continue learning at home. But there are negatives; digital media can mean widespread dissemination of fake news, causing harm to people and society. To use digital technology safely, I always verify the accuracy and reliability of news sources before sharing information. I do this by checking an article or blog’s credentials and reputation,” said Pypo.

Pypo takes the mic to share his thoughts and experiences about online safety at the National Children’s Forum in Laos.


Group discussions at the forum also focused on the role everyone plays in making our digital world safer. The availability of new technologies and a lack of digital skills and regulations means that children and young people are more vulnerable to potential harm online. To help protect children’s digital rights and safety, it’s important to have greater awareness and support from children’s families and their communities. They should have the knowledge and skills to support the health and wellbeing of children navigating their online environment, said Lunny, a 17-year-old student from Savannakhet Province who participated in the discussion group.

“Technology plays a vital role in our society, but some people misuse it. They might use social media to bully and criticise others, which can severely affect a person’s mental health and wellbeing,” he said.

“To address this problem, I believe that children should have resources on how to deal with cyberbullying and mental health. These resources could include hotlines, support groups, and counselling services. By doing so, we can create a positive online environment where people can connect and engage in healthy interactions without the fear of being bullied.”

“Technology plays a vital role in our society, but some people misuse it. They might use social media to bully and criticise others, which can severely affect a person’s mental health and wellbeing.”

Lunny, 17


Traditionally, children’s voices in Laos have not been given serious attention, particularly in the public sphere of decision-making. That’s what makes opportunities such as the National Children’s Forum, an annual event co-hosted by ChildFund in Laos and the National Commission for the Advancement of Women and Mothers-Children (NCAWMC), so unique. For young people like Pypo it can be a life-changing experience – a chance to learn more about advocacy, leadership skills, and how to build resiliency online and offline.

“Attending the Children’s Forum was important to me because I saw it as an opportunity to develop myself,” explained Pypo. “It inspired me to try new things and step out of my comfort zone. As a result, I have become more confident in sharing my opinions, even in front of large audiences.”

ChildFund acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).