Supporting Transitions

Celebrations have occurred. New Year’s resolutions have been made. New planners and calendars have been purchased. It may take a little more practice to write the date as 2019, but you are almost there. Congratulations! You have successfully crossed over to 2019!

The start of a new year is a transition. Transitions are changes in people’s lives. Some transitions are small while others are major. Big transitions, such as starting a new job or moving to a new home, require planning and preparation.

A major transition for children and families is the move from early childhood settings to elementary school. Research indicates that families’ and children’s kindergarten transition experiences shape their views of school. These experiences can have short-term and long-term impacts on children’s emotional, social, and academic development.

Early childhood and elementary school staff can prepare families and their children for transition to kindergarten–and January is a good time to focus on this process. The goal is for children and families to have a positive, smooth experience. Below are some suggestions  that support kindergarten transition:

  • Teamwork. Create a team that consists of parents and/or caregivers, early childhood and kindergarten staff, and other educational staff who support children and their families. Create a kindergarten transition plan together that best meets children’s and families’ needs.
  • Listen to families. Find out what they know about school choice and registration processes in your community. Provide support to help families navigate the choices and to complete enrollment forms if it is needed..
  • Encourage families to tour elementary schools. The differences between early childhood settings and elementary schools is unexpected for many families, especially if the child going to kindergarten is their oldest. Encourage parents and caregivers to schedule tours at elementary schools during the school day so that they can see meet school staff, see the building, and observe school routines first-hand.
  • Host a kindergarten transition family event. Share information with families about kindergarten readiness benchmarks in your community. Set up stations so families can practice at-home learning strategies. Focus on basic skills that families can do at home like zipping, name writing, and book handling.

The transition to kindergarten is a major change for young children and their families. Educators can help them plan and prepare to make the change a positive experience. How does your school or program support the transition to kindergarten? Share your ideas in the space below. Each person who comments will receive a free PDF copy of NCFL’s Kindergarten Transition Reading List for families.