Every year millions of children around the world move from preschool to primary school. In this article we are sharing our own experiences, developed while helping children and their families’ transition to “big school”.
Moving to Big School is a very important time for children and their families. It involves a big adjustment in their lives and for some children this change brings excitement and happiness about making new friends and learning new things. For other children it can instead bring anxiety and overwhelming feelings about moving to an unknown environment and coping with the reorganization of their identity as they move from the status of a preschooler to a “school child”.
However, we have noticed that children’s experience of transitions can be positive when key people in their lives collaborate by sharing important information and when they work in partnership with each other. Research also shows that transition to primary school is improved when a strong network of stakeholders collaborates to share information, resources and opportunities with families and children.
On the other hand, we have witnessed the pressure that exists on primary school teachers, perhaps as a consequence of the gap that exists between professionals of both Early Childhood Education and Primary School Education. Inevitably, when children reach formal schooling, a long list of requirements has to be met. In that way, children’s adaptation process is fragmented and cannot be appropriately executed. As a result, it is important to develop a sense of awareness in parents and school principals, since they are the ones who place high value in children’s academic achievements.
Preschool teachers are in the ideal position to equip children with necessary skills to succeed in school and have huge influence on how children perceive school and his own learning process. How children cope with his first year of Primary School is also significant to their overall well-being both at the first year and in long term as well as later cognitive achievement.
Thus, we believe that developing a Transition to Big School program helps children and their families to better understand and predict what is happening and what is about to happen in their lives. Our experience tell us that including Primary teachers in this process has huge advantage to them as they can better fit their future curriculum, daily routines and better adapt their new students at the beginning of the year. Consequently, children will have a smooth, positive and happy start at the big school. It is, indeed, a win-win situation!
The Transition to Primary School program is a process rather than a event and promotes positive relations between the contexts in which children are in during a certain length of time. This kind of practice leads to the development of constructive feelings towards what is “big school”, “who is a teacher?” and a better understanding for both adults and children of “what is going on”.
We have noticed that after implementing this kind of program children:
- Show lower levels of stress and over excitement and consequently better sleep and eating patterns
- progressive better understand and accept what is about to happen
- Develop more independence and self-help skills
- Feel more confident and competent about their uniqueness and strengths while respecting others
- Increase their levels of concentration and listening skills.