In the south, Midwest and west coast the new school year is already in full swing. The new school year in the northeast corridor is just beginning this week. Transitions are exciting opportunities for children to learn and grow. Parents and early childhood professionals share a role in making children feel safe and secure as they move to new educational settings. Of course, such milestones in children’s lives can cause anxiety, too. Strengthening the ties between educational professionals and families will help create smooth transitions for both adults and children. Making a smooth transition between home and school requires teachers and early childhood professionals to help children feel good about themselves and learn to trust other adults and children. Helping children adapt to new situations can ease parents’ minds and give them a chance to become involved in their children’s education.
Over the past several weeks, Steve Virgadamo offered suggestions for parents as to how to ease the transition from the lazy, hazy days of summer to a more rigorous and structured day in an academic setting. Below, Steven offers practical advice as to early childhood professionals can do their part to help each student transition smoothly from summer to the first few days of school.
8 Ways Early Childhood Teachers Can Help Ensure a Smooth Transition for Students from Home to the First Few Days of a New School Year.
- Set up an area for photos of parents and family members that children may “visit” throughout the day. Also, include items that reflect the cultural experiences of the children to help promote a sense of mutual respect and understanding. Children, just like adults, need time to adjust to new people and situations.
- Hold an orientation for children and parents. Small groups encourage children to get to know each other.
- Experience helps to ease transitions but change can still be stressful. Patience and understanding on the part of parents, caregivers, and teachers help children learn how to approach new situations with confidence—a skill that helps them make successful transitions throughout their lives.
- Show children around the new school or program, introducing them to other adults who are there to help them become acclimated.
- Make an effort to get to know each individual child as quickly as possible. Parents can provide information about children’s likes, dislikes, and special interests.
- Welcome suggestions from families, particularly those of children with special needs. Parents can offer specific suggestions they have found useful for their child and advice on classroom setup and modifications.
- Make sure activities are developmentally appropriate for children. Activities that are interesting, challenging, and doable will help children feel comfortable in their new setting.
- Work with your administrator to have a cry area for parents – remember the first day of school can be as hard or harder time of separation anxiety on some parents than their child. Allowing parents to gather for awhile proves to be an opportunity for the school administrator to befriend new parents.