Over the last decade, there has been increasing awareness of the importance of engaging young children in research about their experiences and considering ways in which children's experiences, expectations and perceptions influence both their interactions and those of others. This has resulted from recognition of young children as active citizens, with rights to be consulted about matters that affect them and from the principles underpinning the sociology of childhood, which emphasizes children's capabilities and agency. This paper explores young Australian children's perceptions of school and learning, as expressed through drawings and conversations about school. Data from children in preschools and the early years of school highlight children's expectations and experiences of school, including the importance of play, friendships, children's dispositions, and academic expectations of school and teachers. Drawing on previous research that notes the long term importance of children's attitudes and approaches, as well as their sense of belonging and identity, at the start of school, this paper has implications for adults engaging with children as they make the transition to school.