Ready for the Transition to School

July is that milestone time of year when our older nursery children prepare for the next big step in their educational career and move to 'big school'. At the GYCT Nurseries it has become traditional for us to mark this occasion with a graduation celebration of the children's achievements.

It's a time of mixed emotions for nursery staff, proud to see the children ready to move on to the next stage of their educational journey, but with an underlying sadness as some close bonds have been formed, especially with children who have been at nursery since they were 3 months old.

"For the children the transition to school brings a period of change that can be both challenging and exciting. For some children the change brings excitement about making friends and learning new things, while for others the change can leave them feeling nervous and overwhelmed" (Kids Matter).

Preparation for school begins from a child's first day at nursery, but the transition period begins in the September of their final year at nursery and continues into their first days, weeks and months at school. Collaboration between the child's family, childcare professional and staff from the child's new school is important for the process to run as smoothly as possible.

Children who make a positive start to school are more likely to:

  • feel comfortable, relaxed and valued

  • feel excited and motivated to learn

  • have good relationships with others

  • develop a sense of belonging within the school community.

The role of the childcare professional is to ensure that the child is 'school ready', helping them to cope with the new challenges ahead by developing their social, emotional and learning skills. On the academic side this means helping the child to achieve good foundation skills in literacy and numeracy. On the social side it means preparing the child in terms of social skills, behaviour and socio-emotional development (Kids Matter).

Getting ready for school
During the transition period teachers from the new school are introduced, firstly in the child's familiar nursery surroundings, later with taster sessions/days at the school. This process provides a gradual introduction to some of the key challenges that occur during the transition. These include:

  • New physical surroundings: getting used to the size of the playground, classroom and school buildings, the location of toilets, eating area, drinking water etc.
  • New relationships: being introduced to new staff and children, making new friendships, responding to children of different ages.
  • New rules and procedures: lining up at the beginning of the school day/after breaks, putting up a hand to speak in class, getting their lunch and going to the toilet.
  • A more structured approach to learning: adapting to a more structured timetable and set tasks, coping with longer classroom sessions and increasing independence.

The Importance of Pre-School Education

The role of the pre-school environment is fundamental in helping to prepare children for school, thus securing the best start to their academic career. It provides a small 'community' for children to make secure attachments, gain independence and begin to socialise with peers and adults outside the family.

The Foundation Stage curriculum gives equal regard to academic skills, physical development, understanding the world and personal, social and emotional development. Nursery is an important stepping stone in the introduction of concepts such as sharing, turn taking and helping peers, particularly those who are younger or who need additional help.

In their final year our nursery practitioners work alongside a child's family to ease the transition to school through more focused practices such as:

  • Arranging for new school teachers/head teachers to come into the nursery to meet the children.
  • Encouraging school visits with parents, guardians or nursery staff to familiarise the children with their new environment and help them to locate their classroom, toilets and eating area.
  • Practising good learning skills, such as listening to instructions, putting up hands and sitting quietly during snack times and circle times.
  • Practising good social skills through sharing, turn taking and showing regard for peers who are younger or may need more help than others.
  • Inviting children to bring their school uniform/school shoes into nursery to practise with any fastenings that may be unfamiliar.
  • Talking to children about the school day to get them used to new rules, procedures and practices ahead.
  • Helping children with any difficulties they may have in managing to eat food and ensuring they are competent with a knife and fork.

If you would like more information about our nurseries in Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, Filby or Norwich contact Andrea Rix:
T: 01493 743012 E: andrea-rix@gyctrust.co.uk
Or visit Childcare for more info.



References

Thinking about the Transition to School. Kids Matter. https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/families/starting-school/1-thinking-about-transition-school (Accessed 10 August 2017).