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Transition to School Programmes in ECE Centres and What Teachers Can Do to Support Children Starting School

transition to school programme in action at a NZ early childhood education centre

By Lisa Almeida
© ChildForum


My experience has taught me that if the child’s transition to school is to be a success the importance of a reciprocal inter-relationship between parents, early childhood teachers, the primary school, and the child cannot be emphasised enough.  

Transition to school is an important emotional time for children and their families. Many research studies have pointed to the success of this transition time as a critical influence on how well the child does in their school career.

The difficulty for the child is that in making the transition there is much to deal with.  A change in a social context, a shift of expectations, the need to adapt to change and the stress of sudden accelerated development or ‘growing up’.

The strands in the early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki  underpin the objective of providing a base for children to be able to build on their learning and become confident and competent in school. The New Zealand Curriculum explains that supporting of the transition process from early childhood requires fostering of a child’s relationships within their social environment, building and recognising all their experiences and collaborating with family and whanau.

Multiple factors affect a child’s transition from early childhood to school, and some of the main factors are:

  1. Whether there is a collaborative approach and effective communication between school, early childhood service and the family during the transition process;
  2. Early childhood and primary teachers understanding of both the early childhood and the NZ schools curricula;
  3. Children’s understanding of the different curriculum of the school, and the school’s social and physical environment; and
  4. Children’s preparedness for the academic challenges of the school curriculum.

Teachers have different approaches to managing the transition processes.

As early childhood teachers, we need to understand that each child develops differently; hence we need to adapt the pace of the transition programme accordingly. As an example, I have found that children who have siblings or close family that have recently moved to school are more familiar and usually require less guidance in the social setting of school. Identifying children that require assistance earlier in the process is essential for the transition processes to be successful.

I’ll discuss each of these factors and share examples with you.

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