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Transition to School

Some people still believe the old ‘status quo’ that a child requires a move on to a kindergarten or larger preschool setting to learn their school readiness skills before they make their big transition off to primary school. But this simply isn’t the case. School readiness skills are not just formed by children being put into large group settings to have more socialisation. In fact, for some children this can be very overwhelming. Now day’s a preschool or kindergarten setting, and a primary school setting can still be vastly quite different from one another and the skills we once thought were the most imperative for transitioning to school are not so much the things children need to learn to thrive in this change. Children need to feel connection, to engage in proper learning of these skills and not necessarily how to engage with larger groups of children. They already get all of this regularly through our wonderful Nurture@Home programme of activities like our NatureFocus, Playschool, Gymnastics sessions and other large group events that are provided every week through our home-based service. Their Educator that they already have the connection with is trained to give your child a transition to school programme that is set to the very highest of standards and the low ratio’s mean our Educators have the time to be able to focus their teaching into your transitional child that allow the best learning outcomes for being ready for school.

Each child is provided with a “my transitioning to school booklet.” Some of the things included in our transition to school programme is an assessment of your child’s strengths to recognise any areas they may need a little extra support with. There is a strong focus on the dispositions required to successfully transition into their primary school setting. Including Visual skills, Early Manipulative skills (being able to hold & control a pencil properly for example), Language and Reading skills, Understanding Concepts such as: time, colours, textures, rules, structure, position and direction, early mathematical skills, self-help skills and emotional development.

This is all underpinned by Te Whariki (the New Zealand ECE curriculum) where your child’s wellbeing/mana atua, their belonging/mana whenua, their contribution/mana tangata, their communication/mana reo and their exploration/mana aotūroa is at the centre of this learning.

Parents/whānau and children/tamariki are well involved in this process and the aspirations for their learning and development acquired from us are also viewed as highly important, and we work with their new entrant teacher closer to the time, with a handover of their learning booklet so that their new entrant teacher gets strong insight into your child and where their learning and development is at as an individual joining in to their classroom setting.

Below are some of what others have to say about our transition to school learning program and how successful this was!

Bex – (Educator):  I ask the parents just before their child turns 4 if they have thought about what they are going to do when their child turns 5, and ask if they are going to keep them in my care until they turn 6, explaining that is an option, as most people don’t even know that is an option. We talk about the benefits of not starting school until a year later. As we continue the conversation I ask if they have thought about which school, they will be sending their child to, so I can organise school visits towards the end of their journey with me. I find this process also gets parents thinking about the next stage of their children’s education if they haven’t already.

I do a whole year of a transitioning programme and incorporate what the parents would like their child to learn to be prepared for this transition. I adapt my program for children who are going off to school and for those who are being home schooled. For making transitions easier for the child, I have made relationships with the nearby schools and their new entrant teachers in my area. I contact these teachers directly when a child is ready to begin transitioning to school and we make a plan that includes school visits together. We use the ‘My Transitioning to School Booklet’ that has been created especially for school transition, and I work in partnership with the teachers to also practice with the children what the teacher’s aspirations are for the child to be confident with before they start school. These are things like to be able to recognise their own name, count to 10, say the alphabet, recognize some letters and numbers, use scissors safely and accurately, open packets in their own lunch boxes, go to the toilet by themselves confidently, know colours and shapes and to dress themselves confidently, especially after swimming. I make a social story that includes lots of photos of their new classroom and school and we read this as a way of preparing for the upcoming change. The learning the children get from my transition to school program is gradual and fun.

My programme comprises fun activities that include letter recognition, numbers, shapes and colours. I have scissors available at the art area so they can practice when they choose. A big thing is having morning tea and lunch time at the same time as the school, so the children get used to this routine, this is a very big thing for the children to adjust to. I support the children to become very independent in the year before starting school with dressing themselves, putting their belongings into their own bags and lunch boxes away after eating and cleaning/tidying up after themselves. The school routine is built into my service for all 4 and 5 year olds so that once they leave they are prepped and set to go. At the end of their time with me the teachers then get the transition to school booklet which has great detail about the child’s strengths, and areas they may need further support with so that the child continues to receive continuity in the areas they are learning.

Katie (Parent): V learnt all the skills she needed to go to school with – independence, basic alphabet, adapting to new routines etc, and she was well prepared for school after her time with our home-based Educator. Our Educator even took them on the school bus which was a big highlight for them!

Emily (Parent): We couldn’t have been more happier with the transition to school programme that our son received while in home-based care. The programme was tailored to his needs and allowed him to be school ready when he started in all aspects. The new entrant teacher shared he was holistically ready and noticed in particular how is social and emotional skills were superior. We believe as parents this is because home-based care allows children to develop at their own pace and with the small ratios, children are supported to learn to interact with one another in ways that are socially accepted as the Educator is there to support and guide them and teach them ways to manage their own big feelings.

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