Helping Children Make a Smooth Transition to SchoolStarting school is a big milestone in the lives of children and families. Children who make a positive start to school are more likely to feel comfortable, relaxed and motivated to learn, have good relationships with others and develop a sense of belonging within their new school community.
Helping children to make a smooth transition to school as capable and involved learners is an important part of any preschool curriculum. To understand what makes a great preschool curriculum, it is important to understand what a curriculum is. Intentional educators aim to create a curriculum that delivers a holistic ‘ready for school’ program that supports every child to reach their full potential considering that all the day’s routines are learning opportunities.
‘Belonging, Being and Becoming – The Early Years Learning Framework’ (2009) defines a curriculum as “all the interactions, experiences, activities, routines and events, planned and unplanned, that occur in an environment designed to foster children’s learning and development”.
Intentional educators work to equip each child to take on new challenges during the transition to school by promoting children’s wellbeing, sense of identity, their capacity to look after themselves (dressing and feeding, for example), to plan, play and create with others, to show care and respect for others and the environment, to make choices, take risks, manage change and celebrate achievements.
When looking at what being truly ‘ready for school’ means, it is for each child to display some or all the following traits:
• Building and maintaining positive relationships with other adults and children around them;
• Being ready to make good, independent decisions and be able to solve any problems that may arise;
• Displaying confidence in following routines, coping with transitions and interacting with a wide group of people with confidence;
• Being a curious, interested and engaged learner;
• Having the ability to be responsible for one’s own belongings;
• Demonstrating the ability to collaborate in both small and large groups with ease.
All this is achieved through carefully prepared, interesting and challenging learning environments, play- based learning, intentional teaching and exploratory creative play.
There are many things that families can do to help their own child get ready for the transition to school, just as the early learning service does each moment of every day. Some of these things include:
• Parents having conversations on topics of interest with the child can help develop critical thinking, vocabulary development and confidence;
• Providing a literacy rich environment at home for children with a variety of books available and reading to children regularly helps develop a love of quality literature;
• Regularly giving children the responsibility of looking after their own belongings and putting them away helps assist with self-help skills;
• Creating a visual routine to help children understand the steps in common place experiences such as getting ready for preschool helps them predict what happens next, understand the meaning of routine and manage transitions (something that happens a lot in school).
Getting children excited and ready for the transition to school is an equal partnership between the early learning service and the family home, and by educators and families working together we can all help make children’s start to formalised learning an absolute joy.
Emma Forbes, Head of Education & Curriculum at Only About Children, is an experienced early childhood educator having worked in all elements of early childhood over the past 18 years including teaching, directing and writing and implementing curriculum. She holds a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood) as well as Master of Education (Leadership).