Keys to Successful Transition of Preschool Children to Public Schools:
There are four critical elements or keys to the successful transition of young children and families as they move from preschool to kindergarten. Educational staff in both settings can facilitate transition by:
- Providing program continuity through developmentally appropriate curricula for preschool and kindergarten children;
- Maintaining ongoing communication and cooperation between preschool and kindergarten staff;
- Preparing children for the transition; and
- Involving parents in the transition.
- By focusing attention on each one of these important aspects of the transition process, early childhood educators build a more continuous educational experience for young children and their families.
Suggested Activities for NWAHS Staff in Planning Transition Activities for Children:
- Schedule a visit or a series of visits to the new school for the children. These visits can include a tour of the building and playground, eating lunch in the cafeteria, and/or participating in activities in the kindergarten classroom. Take pictures or videos of these activities to share with children and parents.
- Help the children feel comfortable and confident about the move to kindergarten by discussing the new activities, schedules, and bus routes.
- Read books to the children that discuss changes and moves. Create a puppet show or scrapbook with pictures of the new school. Allow children to express their feelings about the new school through dramatic play activities and by dictating stories. Encourage children to ask questions.
- If the kindergarten program has different rules (such as lining up to go on the bus), the preschool teacher may want to play games with the children to familiarize them with the new procedures. However, avoid drilling them or creating anxiety about the new environment.
- Invite a kindergarten child or older sibling to visit the preschool and talk about his/her school.
- Make a calendar to highlight important events such as visits to the school, good-bye party, first day of school, etc.
Suggested Activities for Public Schools in Planning Transition Activities for Children:
- Invite parents to visit the school with their child during the school year before the child begins kindergarten.
- Hold a back-to-school night in August so that parents and children can visit the classroom, take part in sample activities, and meet other children and parents in the new group.
- Send a personal "letter from your teacher" or postcard to all new students in the late summer, welcoming them to the kindergarten class. The school PTA might be contacted to provide resources for materials and postage.
Plan to phase in groups of children during the first week of school in order to provide more individual attention to each child. The teacher may want to have children come with their parents for an hour the first day, in three different groups, or spend two to three days orienting five to ten children a day. Focusing on small groups of children during this initial period can promote a smoother transition for each child.