This week sees many children at the very beginning of their school life as they join their Reception class starting school for the first time.
For some children, moving on from preschool and starting Reception can be a big step. However, there is lots that schools can do to make sure this is a positive experience.
This transition is truly successful when the children quickly settle into the school and right away are able to begin learning and developing. It is helpful if the children already know where they are going, who their teachers are and already know some of their classmates.
Successful transition to school can be aided if:
- teachers have developed a relationship with each family
- children know, and like, the teachers
- teachers know each of the children, including their interests
- children are happy and familiar with the school environment as well as its routines
- children have met or made friends with some of the other children in their class
Getting to know new children
Many children attend preschool where the staff know the children very well. Visiting the children in this familiar environment is a great way to get to know them. This can become more difficult when there are a number of nurseries and preschools feeding into the Reception class.
After observing a child interacting in this setting it is possible to build up a good picture of the child’s physical and language abilities, social skills, confidence etc. Ideally you can then have some fun play with them, so that they have a happy first impression of you.
Settling in sessions in school
Although they can be a challenge to organise, having settling in or play sessions in the Reception class during the summer term are very important. Doing this is much easier to arrange if your school has its own nursery as children can have short visits with a few of their friends. For children from outside the school, it works well to invite three or four at a time with a parent to join in with a Reception free-flow session allowing the children a chance to explore their new classroom and to meet some of the children who will be attending school with them.
When carrying out home visits it is usually the second or third time of meeting the child, therefore usually the child will recognise the teacher! These home visit starts building a relationship with the families and is a further opportunity to gain a better understanding of the children.
Before the first day
Having developed a good picture of the new group of children, the Reception team can prepare the classroom to make sure each child has a choice of activities and that the expectations and routines are established from day one. This can include coat pegs and resource storage being ready so that routines begin on the first day.
By the time the children arrive for their first day at school, a relationship has already started to develop with them and their families, so the children are already familiar with the school. This means that many children settle right away, and their parents are able to leave them within minutes.
Ideally, by ensuring a smooth transition to Reception you will have a class of children who are really engaged in their learning as they are with adults who know and understand them in an enabling environment that meets their needs and interests. It is definitely worth investing time and energy in this vital aspect of our work.
In the face of ever-changing levels of support from local authorities, Elementa are striving to provide cost effective solutions to school requirements. This includes working with schools and teachers across all stages of school life to help improve best practice and ensure the safety and wellbeing of pupils and staff.