With school summer holidays starting soon, our resident education consultant, Louise Cameron, discusses ‘happy transitions’ …..yes it really is a time to prepare your little ones for what’s to come.
As a teacher, I find the summer term in school is looked forward to as an exciting one. A chance for teachers and pupils alike to relax a little after assessments, explore the curriculum in an enriched way and just have some fun. In reality, it is often the busiest one. Whilst we want to be spending all our time enjoying the classes we have worked hard with all year, we need to also start thinking about who we are getting in our classes in September. There can even be some guilt involved, a feeling of not having enough time for everyone.
In primary schools there are two obvious transition years. First, the start of school, children moving from nursery to reception. Schools concentrate a lot of effort into their transition, and rightly so. If we can get the children into school happy, confident and independent, we have a great basis for the rest of the year and school in general. A good transition may include home visits; nursery placement visits; parent meetings; stay and play sessions at school; teddy bear picnics etc. In our school we also provide each child with a personalised welcome pack and social story.
The second important transition year is from primary school to secondary school. Again there is a whole tradition of excellent transition practise to support the children moving up. Children with additional special educational needs or disabilities may also receive extra support and visits during this time.
But sometimes overlooked …… year group to year group
What is often missed is the transition each year from year group to year group. It is often overlooked, roughly sated by a transfer afternoon. But for my reception children moving up to year 1, it is a big deal, their schools lives are going to change significantly. They are going to move from a play based learning environment to a formal learning environment with 90 minute literacy lessons and 60 minute maths lessons. We try to prepare them as best we can, giving them more responsibility in the summer term and teaching year 1-like lessons towards the end of term. The expectations are a hundred fold, and they will meet them, they always do. But it is daunting.
My daughter, who is currently in year 1, will transfer to year 2 this year. Again another big jump with ever increasing expectations. And so on. It continues with each year group. Worries about new teachers, losing friends, harder work, homework expectations. These are the transitions we need to work on, spend time on, plan for. But inevitably schools run out of time, for lots of good reasons.
In our school we send up every child with a pupil passport
In our school, we currently send up every child with a pupil passport, and not just those with special educational needs. A pupil passport is a personal snap shot of who a child is and how best they like to learn and be respected as a learner. Children with additional needs will also receive a social story, picturing their new room and teachers. They may also make extra, informal, frequent visits to their new classroom. But wouldn’t it be lovely if we could find time for all of our children to have a few more visits, and additional emotional support.
Transition is very much an after-thought, a panic at the end of term. It is inevitable with all the pressures in schools that just come before it. But we need to start forward planning and thinking about how we as practitioners, and we as parents, can prepare children seamlessly. I haven’t got one solution yet, but each year we can add an additional cog in the clockwork, another step towards happy transitions.
Happy Transitions everyone!
BSc(Hons), PGCE, National SENCO Accreditation Award (PGCE SEN)
A helpful article is https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/whats-on/family-kids-news/parent-tips-how-help-your-13520595
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