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transition, tell or not ?


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wanted to start a bit of a conversation off about what and when you tell the children about transition.

Let me explain......

We sent out letters to parents a few weeks ago suggesting that too many conversations at this time of year about going to school may not be helpful as it is 1/4 of a year away and we find it just worries the children ...however our local school has done the opposite and suggested having lots of chats/reading stories/getting dressed in uniform etc etc etc. The parents are now in a quandary about what to do. I realise all these conversations will happen over the next couple of weeks but i'm still not sure that winding them up as much as this is very helpful to anyone. Unfortunately I have a very unsettled group this year as we have had two parents pass away and I guess I may be being a bit over sensitive about this.

so I guess the question is

 

how early should we have these conversation about transition ?

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All our nurseries are talking about it now as childrens/teachers are beginning to visit each other to meet and pass on information - settings are making displays and have uniforms in role play areas all year round so that the children get used to the idea I dont think its too early most of the children i am visiting are very excited to be moving onto 'big school'. Those with additional needs may struggle more but get the extra support from the inclusion team to support this. :1b :1b :1b

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I think it depends so much on the child/family/nursery/school. Some children, particularly those with older siblings, are excited. Others might be anxious, and I think it sails over the heads of some. The thing they all have in common, is that they think it will happen in a few weeks not a few months! Transition starting in September might be the way forward...or a five term year without the long summer break. Rushing off to hide ! :1b :ph34r::D

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Maybe it's only obvious to me but surely a child's development level should guide what you're doing? What does the EYFS tell you about time, what band is a child sitting in? If a child is unable to sequence the year using seasons and months then it's pointless starting to talk about it months in advance as they just won't understand when the event is likely to occur which will lead to uncertainty and anxiety. By all means you can talk about school, provide play experiences related to it, visit school but talking to them about moving to school should start within a time frame suitable to the child's development.

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As I said in another thread - i refer to this as 'silly season' - far too much information is (in my humble) shared with children who are far too young to understand time......

 

Much is made of the transition here - we take the leavers on a visit to primary, then they have 3 taster afternoons and the reception teacher and her TA visit pre-school (separately) - now that's all good - but then add the non-stop conversations - parents, family members and even complete strangers "oh you must be starting big school soon"

 

As for that expression 'big school' - arrggghhhhhhh - why can't 'people' say primary school or just school - that word 'big' can conjure up all sorts of anxieties in itself

 

I'm sad to see even my toughest, biggest boys are much more prone to a wobbly bottom lip at the moment :(

 

As others have said I wish that these children could come back to pre-school at the beginning of September and then start the transition process then.......

 

Sorry fm - bet you wish you had never asked now! :D

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We find it unsettling and unnecessary as it affects children's learning whilst with us and doesn't seem to bring much good.In my view, it would be great if all transition preparation happened at the beginning of September.

Totally agree with September transition - for my own sanity if not the well being of the children! At the moment the children are pretty wild! ( with anxiety or excitement??) Letters going home from school to Parents with transition dates - then changed. Visit planned for Reception Teacher to visit us - and didnt turn up! And to top it all- little boy said "I'm goin Big school - playschools for babies!! Thanks for that Mum! no wonder we cant do a thing with them, Role on end of term

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Well I have staff "itching" to do transitions - Kent encourage this I think. Schools are definitely doing the rounds and obviously inviting the children in for their mornings or storytime sessions, so it is unavoidable I think, certainly we cannot ignore it. We are very gently beginning to talk about it on the basis that it's not that different in a Reception Class to what they have been used to, i.e., snack time, self registration, activities etc.

 

We still have 3 with no school to go to, twins and a girl. Parents are appealing, but frankly I don't think they have a cat's chance of getting a place in their preferred schools, so at least one child we know will be returning in September. Very difficult to approach the transition thing with them, I don't think we should, members of staff say "but they will be going to school at some point" - I don't think that's good enough argument.

 

We have school uniform in the dressing up wardrobe - this is only being accessed by the girls - none of the boys have been interested!

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Totally agree with September transition

I do understand, but pre-schools here are already visiting their next year's intake at home, and how, please, am I going to do a decent job of this blessed baseline within the first six weeks of term if the children are still transitioning in?

 

I am sorry that some of you feel undervalued by schools, but please don't tar us all with the same brush - some of us do visit when we say we will, look at learning journeys, listen to what people who know the children have to say about them and generally try to do our best - that goes for the schools around here for sure and our LA would be very cross if we did otherwise.

However, as I said in another thread, we are also trying to make sure our EYFSP data is accurate, moderated and submitted correctly, write reports, do sports, end-of-year assemblies and prepare our current children for their move to Year 1,as well as sort out new intake!

 

It is really helpful if children can visit their new school, preferably with their parent, while the current children are there, so they have an opportunity to watch, to be an observer from the safety of a known adult's company. Then the adult can refer to what was seen as things arise and can allay fears with some genuine knowledge rather than grapevine or from older siblings.

One parent said to me the other day 'He's only small. It's good that he can visit so he knows what it looks and smells like.'

 

I'm sorry if this sounds 'holier than thou' - having just re-read it I think it does BUT I'm feeling a bit defensive on behalf of my school colleagues!

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I do understand, but pre-schools here are already visiting their next year's intake at home [...]

 

[...] we are also trying to make sure our EYFSP data is accurate, moderated and submitted correctly, write reports, do sports, end-of-year assemblies and prepare our current children for their move to Year 1,as well as sort out new intake!

 

It is really helpful if children can visit their new school, preferably with their parent, while the current children are there, so they have an opportunity to watch, to be an observer from the safety of a known adult's company.[...]

Good to hear views from the school side!

We (a pre-school) only meet and discuss with the parents of next year's intake and don't meet with the children until they start, or just before.

Since YR teachers have so much to do at this time of year, not having to sort out the new intake would perhaps be helpful.

I agree that a visit to the school is important, with their parents, but can't see the point of doing more than that.

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Our transition visits are really a highlight of our pre-school year!

 

First, the Foundation Class teacher comes to visit the children during a normal session, chats and plays with them alongside pre-school staff in a very relaxed way without the parents present. We find the children are much happier about starting school because they've met the teacher and now consider her "one of us" and not a stranger.

 

They then attend school for 4 short afternoon visits to the Foundation Class where most of the children are having a taster afternoon in the Year 1 class, and a few stay back to welcome the newbies. I love it because I get to stay on for the first visit and chat and play with the leavers, and those who left me last year, whilst the parents have to go.

 

This means that the teacher has a good idea of who our children are as individuals and where they are developmentally even before she gets the formal written transition reports, and the children become excited and a lot less worried about starting school. The only downside is that sometimes they decide they want to go now and I and my staff feel a little bit miffed! But, this is what we want for them - to be happy and ready to move on to the next stage in their lives and leave us behind. Boo hoo.

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From reading all the posts what is coming across to me (sadly) is that children are having to fit round the expectations of the powers that be - we can't follow what's best for children's well being because, quite validly for current times, it impacts on targets that have been set and are out of our control. Teachers/schools are then judged negatively for not achieving results etc and it's all just quite sad

 

I feel strongly that visits done nigh on 3 months ahead of children actually starting school is crackers - but do take in to account the logistics of why that has to be - or does it?? Is there any LA who does do September transitions?

 

I always feel for the reception class teachers visiting the many settings that feed in to their school as they are away from their own key children who also face their own transitions :-(

 

Climbing down from the soap box now! Sorry!

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At the end of the day it's what works well for the children within the constraints of school/pre-school/family life.

 

Our local school sends reception staff up to us one afternoon a week during the summer term to meet and play with the children on their 'turf'. This includes reception teacher and teaching assistants that will be working in the room. There are 3 visits up to the school. Pre-school staff walk them round and stay for that session, to give a familiar face, and parents pick up from the school gates. They also stay for a school dinner. It does work very well for our settings. Children do settle well in September. The younger children stay behind and new children and parents are invited in for taster session.

 

I do agree that it does start very early but it is very difficult to overcome the 6 week break if you and the schools are not open all year round.

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For us we start transition in February after half term as we visit the school for lunch and play once a month , we have found it really beneficial as by the time they are due to go they are familiar with their classroom , teacher etc , our Wednesday are for our older children only and whilst we still keep it very similar to other days , it does allow peer relationships to develop and we do a pe session but we don't bang on about school.

 

Personally I would rather see children starting school much later.

 

The teacher this year is doing home visits in September and we as a preschool are introducing this too in September for our new starters.

 

The only downside this year is that we have 2 children who did not get a place ( parents appealing ) and sadly the school they have been given does not open until September ! One of the children will cope I beleive but for the other one the gradual transition has been great but sadly if he does not get a place he will have no transition at the school he may end up in.

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We have a very unsettled transition period for many of the children at our setting from May half term onwards.

Schools visit the setting- this is always great and very useful.The children enjoy the teachers visiting and we enjoy that time,albeit not long,to share information etc.

Then, it goes a bit downhill for us.All children have home visits which happen all over the place so we have late arrivals,early leavers etc for a week or so.

Then all children go for 2 one hour morning visits on different days/at different times in small groups. Then they have school lunch visits in different groups on different days,then an afternoon visit all together.

Then to confuse matters even more,in September,children start in dribs and drabs for the first 2 weeks and only for half days until the third week of term.

As you can probably tell,,this is often unsettling for children and parents too as they get so confused particularly when,come September,they still haven't started school properly!

We have given feedback each year to school as we feel it's more for the teacher's transitional benefit than the child's but unfortunately the pattern remains the same and we just have to be there to pick up the pieces!Morning rant over!

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[quote name="marywilliam" post="414210" timestamp=")

 

I'm sorry if this sounds 'holier than thou' - having just re-read it I think it does BUT I'm feeling a bit defensive on behalf of my school colleagues!

 

 

Glad to hear it marywilliam! If all preschools had the same 'bad' experience of transition then there would be something seriously wrong! As with all people and experiences - they differ! I completely understand the pressures on Reception teachers - good to hear your side of things : )

Edited by Rafa
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More important than home visits and school visits is, in my opinion, the teacher's visit to the early years setting. People there have knowledge about how the child responds to challenges similar to those in a school, such as being in a group and being given instructions from adults other than their parents.

I understand that teachers don't have much time, but among all the things they do spend time on before a child is in their class, this is the one I think would give them the most valuable information and would support the child the most. The reasons are that the teacher can observe the child in a familiar group, which can't be created during school visits, and can learn things about the child's personality and abilities that no school or home visits or reports can give.

Some of the children's teachers are not meeting with us and last year we had a few who didn't even bother to call.

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We have a very unsettled transition period for many of the children at our setting from May half term onwards.

Schools visit the setting- this is always great and very useful.The children enjoy the teachers visiting and we enjoy that time,albeit not long,to share information etc.

Then, it goes a bit downhill for us.All children have home visits which happen all over the place so we have late arrivals,early leavers etc for a week or so.

Then all children go for 2 one hour morning visits on different days/at different times in small groups. Then they have school lunch visits in different groups on different days,then an afternoon visit all together.

Then to confuse matters even more,in September,children start in dribs and drabs for the first 2 weeks and only for half days until the third week of term.

As you can probably tell,,this is often unsettling for children and parents too as they get so confused particularly when,come September,they still haven't started school properly!

We have given feedback each year to school as we feel it's more for the teacher's transitional benefit than the child's but unfortunately the pattern remains the same and we just have to be there to pick up the pieces!Morning rant over!

Yes we have had similar experiences here too. Sometimes I want the old days back when they went fulltime after a couple of mornings! I know this gradual entry is better in some ways, but frankly by the time September is here, everyone just wants to get going.

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Firstly thanks to everyone who has replied... I really value all of your opinions.

One thing I must point out is that I feel those of you who are transitioning in to one setting are quite lucky (as long as everyone gets a place)

from my point of view I send to 10 different schools ! some state some private....just to make life trickier. ;)

If I was a reception class teacher i'm sure that having everyone start at the same time is not helpful (we all know that one crying child sets off a whole raft of them) but equally who should be given what and when??? and is the pressure of baselining going to make this worse....if you have good local pre-schools could you join forces on this I wonder?

In most of my practise I am not one for doing things as early as possible....I tend to do things when I think the children are ready (so phonics when they have learnt to speak, writing when they have excellent gross motor skills and good fine motor skills etc

so preparing them for school has to be done at their pace (I love your idea beau on time and you are absolutely right but I guess it gets to a stage in the year when we have no choice but to force this conversation !)

In an ideal world what I would like to see is children coming back to us in september , spending a couple of days with us and then taking them to their new schools and handing them over in a couple of sessions......I wonder whether this would reduce the gap in their 'fallback' developmentally that so many reception class teachers describe? ...but I often have grand ideas which do not come to fruition!

Having thought long and hard I really don't think talking about this in april/may is helpful...we all know children of this age cannot wait for 1 or two sleeps let alone 120 sleeps.....Im bad enough waiting for my holiday and that's a few weeks away! :D For those of you who do very early transitions I feel this is maybe devaluing your own service....you could be seen as only there to get them ready for school.

The jury's still out in my camp about home visits (why are you doing them? to check on the parents? home life?.....a large percentage of the children I suspect will not remember who you are in September :ph34r: ) Our local school has just introduced them and have sent many of my parents in to a spin.....the children have behaved very differently than they do at pre-school....do you remember this and hold bad behaviour against them in September :unsure:

sorry long post......still trying to work through my feelings on this one....every child is unique and requires a unique experience....some need lots of time to assimilate and adjust another little one I had a chat with an hour before his teacher arrived knowing full well that any more time than that and he would fret!

 

:1b thanks for letting me chat xD

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[...] For those of you who do very early transitions I feel this is maybe devaluing your own service....you could be seen as only there to get them ready for school. [...]

The jury's still out in my camp about home visits (why are you doing them? to check on the parents? home life?.....a large percentage of the children I suspect will not remember who you are in September :ph34r: ) Our local school has just introduced them and have sent many of my parents in to a spin.....the children have behaved very differently than they do at pre-school.... [...]

1. Our role is to provide for the needs of children's early childhood, not for those of their schools.

2. If taking time for home visits, why not taking time for a visit to the pre-school/nursery?

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We are a small village pre-school. Most of our children live in the village and move onto the village primary school (12 out of 12 this year). Lots have older siblings so everything is slightly easier in that they already know the school. The ones who dont have older siblings appear to be supported by the 'acceptance' of the other children and maybe not as phased about it all. I am not taking anything away from the fact that it is a huge and possible scary experience for them.

 

As others have said its about the unique child and also the unique settings. What works for some doesn't work for others and also what has worked in the past may not work when new personalities become involved. Just another hurdle in the daily life of working with our young children :D

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We are a small village pre-school. Most of our children live in the village and move onto the village primary school (12 out of 12 this year). Lots have older siblings so everything is slightly easier in that they already know the school. The ones who dont have older siblings appear to be supported by the 'acceptance' of the other children and maybe not as phased about it all.

I guess indirectly that transition actually happens from birth in this case....so they all attend the events at school, go to the summer fete and are immersed in the life of the school from day one. How lovely would that be! mine come from four different counties at the moment! :o :rolleyes:

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I've always thought it rather unhelpful that we have all the big transitions after a six week break and I'm another who thinks it would be better for children to return to pre-school or their old class for that matter for a little while in September and then move up.

 

Maybe my feelings are coloured by the fact that my own children struggle with change but I know they are far from the only ones.

 

I think visits to school are hugely valuable and they don't need to happen as part of a transition process. It would be lovely if those visits were just a routine part of the setting life for all children,unaccompanied by the anticipation of an upcoming move.

 

Our whole village pre-school is invited to watch the christmas production at our village school every year. I think it would be good to build on that and perhaps invite them to one or two events a term, even just to join in story and snack time with the reception class now and then. If this is routine, it doesn't have to be part of a big build up. It's just something the setting does throughout the year that helps the children to get used to different environments. Even children who won't be attending that particular school would benefit from some of the more common sights, sounds, smell, etc.

 

At the same time, occasional visits from school staff don't have to be big events. It could be just that Mrs xxx is coming to read our story/play with us today. She'll then be a familiar face at school and know the children a little better, whether they are made aware that it's part of the transition process or not. It could be teachers, TAs, or lunchtime supervisors who do this. Just getting to know each others names and faces is enough to make the transition easier when it happens.

 

I would love to see the system fitting around the children a bit more, not vice versa. It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to plan a transition process with a six week hiatus followed immediately by the biggest step so I think we need to ask why it happens that way. I personally don't believe that "That's how we've always done it" "That's what the assessment/funding/attendance systems dictate" or "It would be too much hard work to change it" are good enough answers.

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On the why do we do home visits or not, I suppose it depends on many factors, one of which is certainly not to pry on someone's home life.

Our building does not really lend itself to private conversations that is sometimes needed with our children and families joining. The only private space we truly have is our office which is actually a walk in cupboard.

We introduced home visits 4 years ago now and have found them invaluable.

For us and parents tell us through a questionnaire on them, that they like the fact we take the time to come and see them individually with the child's key-person. We take some puzzles and books with us. Often children like to show you their garden, their pets etc, lots feel more confident in their own environment, and parents are more relaxed too.

And yes they do remember that we went to visit them at home, because they tell us.

We do evaluate how successful they are with each cohort and they win every time.

 

A teacher friend of mines school introduced them some years back, and she tells me of a child that when joining was very physical, climbed most things he shouldn't etc. if they hadn't done a home visit they would never have known that this child lived in a cramped flat with very limited room to move about, hence the behaviours shown . They were then able to plan and ensure they had plenty of physical experiences during their school day when they started.

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We are thinking of introducing home visits in Sept. Not sure of how to start. Would anyone share the way that they plan and carry out the visits e.g. when, who goes, what happens? Please.

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Another interesting discussion with a variety of views. Trouble is, for every child that finds a 'transition' events difficult prior to a 6 week break, there are others who would find it equally (if not more) difficult to return to their old preschool/school/class in September just for a few days. I'm not truly convinced that this is of benefit to many.for some children who have anxiety about change then returning to old setting after 6 weeks can be just as daunting and then they still have to move on which could pose a bit of a double whammy for them. As it is now, children can stay at their preschool/ nursery prior to school if parents/settings feel this is in the best interest of the child, some attend both, some transition later in the term, or even in the January. Having all transitions in September just doesn't make any sense to me really. I have yet to see any evidence that this would benefit most children.

of course, one solution would be to do away with a 6 week break altogether, and there are many advocating this and some schools moving more to this so who knows if that's what will happen in the future?

Regarding home visits I completely agree with fredbear. I was doing them when I first qualified in the 1980s and they were invaluable and I learned so much more about the child and family, and home life, than I ever did from a visit to the setting. In an ideal world I would have done both but for various reasons it just wasn't always possible.

 

I've just read this back and think I am rambling somewhat, but as I always say, good to debate and hear a range of views, always very well presented in this forum!

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Okay this is how we implement them.

Children are offered sessions, once this is confirmed verbally by parent/ carers, we send out our new starter pack which includes a home visit date. We arrange 2 induction visits to the setting, generally for 1 hour to come and play, meet the staff, familiarise themselves with the building etc.

 

The keyperson and a senior member of staff will then visit the home to go through the pack, whilst the keyperson interacts with the child.

It does take some organising, but is certainly achievable for us and worth all the time and effort.

We have only had two refuse in four years, one because both are head teachers and live miles away from the provision, and the other was not comfortable in us visiting and that's fine too. Their packs were discussed at the induction days.

Hope this helps in your decision making. :)

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On home-visits - we organise ours very much like Fredbears.

Appointments are inside the starting school information pack, and there's an opportunity for parents to change if necessary at the new intake evening.

We fit them all into a week and allow 20-30 mins at each house, so it's a bit of a military operation I try to arrange them so that each session starts with the furthest away and then work out a route that brings staff back towards school. It gives each child time to see us on their territory, and parents the opportunity to say things they want us to know.

 

I do give a prompt sheet that I pinched from somewhere (here probably) so parents have the chance to think ahead about what they might tell us. (sorry - can't find it on my laptop right now but will attach when I do!) Staff always go in pairs and have a phone. They take some details we already have about each child just to check through, some toys and puzzles, paper and pencils for child to draw picture (this is then on the wall when child comes to school) and some 'sorry we missed you' slips if the family is out.

 

I do assure them that I am not remotely interested in whether they've done the washing-up, and also thank them for their hospitality but please don't make us a cup of tea - need to keep going for the whole morning! or feed us - after I was presented with a full plate of biriyani at 9.30am one year!

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