Swings + Roundabouts Winter 2022

Transitions are an important part of life, and learning to manage different expectations, identities, and roles is an inherent aspect of development (Rogoff, 1997). In the previous article, Are schools ready for our tamariki? it offers some concrete guidance on how schools can support our tamariki and their whānau. We in early learning also have a responsibility to support tamariki and their whānau during this time. In 2013, the Education Review Office (ERO) evaluated how well early childhood services supported children through the transition to school. ERO found considerable variability in how well services and schools supported children, particularly children at risk of poor educational outcomes. As we know, this transition despite the child’s excited anticipation, can, for many tamariki be challenging especially when many early learning services and schools differ widely from the child’s expectations, and their known structures and routines. In Te Whāriki (MoE, 2017) it states that: “Kaiako and new entrant teachers support children by affirming their identity and culture, connecting with and building on their funds of knowledge and having positive expectations for their learning”. This is our everyday teaching in practice! This strong awareness and confidence in who they are along with a positive learning identity will support both a child’s transition to school and their ongoing learning. ERO’s 2015 report, Continuity of learning: transitions from early childhood services to schools also signalled that successful strong learning foundations and a sense of identity and belonging can contribute to successful transitions. ERO found that the most effective practices supporting children as they approach transition to school included: ● a responsive and holistic curriculum focused on dispositional learning, independence and social competence as outlined in Te Whāriki ● assessment information that makes children’s strengths, dispositions and interests visible, identifies their progress and shows continuity of learning over time ● relationships with parents and whānau, and other important adults, focused on learning and supporting the child (including their language, culture and identity) ● collaborative relationships between teachers in services and schools so expectations, philosophies and curricula are shared, valued and understood ● evidence of the impacts of processes and practices around transition, with self review resulting in positive changes in support for children ERO (2015) also found that after self review some early learning services improved practice by also: ● giving children opportunities to develop literacy and mathematical concepts, and dispositions in meaningful contexts rather than through a formal teaching programme ● increasing children’s awareness of what happens at school ● aligning learning dispositions with key competencies to help make connections between Te Whāriki and The New Zealand Curriculum ● proactively approaching schools to develop collaborative relationships and share knowledge of curriculum and approaches to teaching and learning ● accessing professional learning and development about transitions ● revisiting parents’ aspirations for their children as they approach transition to school ● increasing parent and whānau involvement in the transition process ● making contact with children and their parents and whānau after they have started school. In Te Whāriki (2017) and on Te Whāriki Online there are a myriad of reflective questions, these below are a good place to start: ● What steps do we take to formulate our approach to transitions? Who is involved in these developments and how is their effectiveness evaluated? ● How do we establish and support respectful, reciprocal relationships between all involved in a transition? ● To what extent are children engaged in learning and able to find an appropriate, stimulating level of challenge? How does our practice support children’s learning dispositions and identities as learners? ● How do we create a dialogue with whānau, schools, and external agencies so there is continuity for children’s learning and how do we know if this has been effective? ● To what extent are our approaches inclusive or are they more relevant for some children? How can we provide a nuanced approach to transition that caters to individuals? Transitioning to school June 2022 { 34 }