Transitions: What effects do these have on children’s learning and how can be best manage them?

As we are ending the end of the year it is the time that many of our children will be making a major transition in their educational learning, be it leaving to attend school or kindergarten or even making the move to the ELC from the ITC. There is lots of research around regarding the effect these transitions can have on children and their learning and how best to manage so this to ensure there is a continuity of learning for the child.

In Carla Rinaldi’s Thinker in Residence Re-Imagining Childhood The inspiration of Reggio Emilia education principles in South Australia Report 2012-13 she discussed the effect of the many transitions a child can have which creates a very fragmented week for them. She advocates that it is “among the rights of children and in particular the very small ones, there is the right to live and be in situations in which it is possible to build long lasting, constant relationships.

In these relationships, time and space are structuring themselves in order to help the child to recognise and be recognised, to give and to have continuity, and helping him be orientated in the affective environment and in his relationships. In this way, the child builds his own identity and his security: at home and in the situations in which he is welcomed.”

If a child is attending many situations, such as home, grandparents, early learning centre and/or kindergarten in just one week the ability for the child to create this continuity and long lasting constant relationships is compromised and therefore can affect their ability to create an identity and to be recognised at their full potential. Giving a child “rituality, rhythms, relationships and continuity it gives him the possibility to recognise himself and to overcome small and big stresses and unpredicted change” Rinaldi 2012-13.

Rinaldi (2012-13) continues to site that “if early childhood services are considered just as places to meet the needs of working families, and the right of children to build strong and constant relationships and friendships is not taken into consideration, there is a risk of environmental, cognitive and affective fragmentation that could disorient children”.

We see this commonly at the centre for those children who attend only one day where they may take longer to form strong secure relationships with educators and peers and find it hard to settle on that day they attend. These are useful points to note when planning a return to work or the move to other educational site for your child that considers the child’s perspective instead of just the parents working needs, however we do understand that other factors will also influence this decision such as monetary constraints and time.

So for those children who are about to make a major transition or will be utilizing more than one option of early childhood education “more than any other element of transition, relationships between and among children, families and educators are the basis for continuity between home, prior to school, school and school age care“(Dockett, S. & Perry, B. (2007). With this in mind it is important that the relationship between educators and families provides the opportunities for open communication about the child and the planned transitions and to discuss any concerns they may arise.

The Early Years Learning Framework also outlines that our practice must allow for a continuity of learning for the following outcomes:

  • Building on children’s prior and current experiences helps them to feel secure, confident and connected to familiar people, places, events and understandings
  • As children make transitions to new settings educators from early childhood settings and schools commit to sharing information about each child’s knowledge and skills so learning can build on foundations of earlier learning
  • Educators work collaboratively with each child’s new educator and other professionals to ensure a successful transition.

Our transition programs between rooms and centres ensures that our teachers and educators are working collaboratively together before the child’s transition. Part of this process is that the Teachers of both groups meet and discuss the child along with preparing a transition report that aids this conversation. For those children leaving to attend school or kindergarten we prepare our year end development and learning reports that can be forwarded to their teacher.

We work in collaboration with local kindergartens by meeting each term and discussing the programs both sites were delivering along with individual child developmental progress. This allowes us to work together in ensuring a successful transition at the beginning of the year and that both sites are able to build on the child’s foundations of learning at either site. We also working to create to stronger relationships with the local schools for those children choosing to use only Ranges for their child’s preschool education to assist in the transition to school.