Children transition within and between a range of settings. These include family environments, community settings, education and care settings, other early learning environments and school.
The following guiding principles underpin transition practices:
- Positive transition experiences for children affect their ability to successfully engage in learning and play
- Knowledge of individual developmental factors, dispositions, culture, and personal experiences, is critical to developing responsive transition practices
- Families are critical participants in supporting successful transitions, and their role should be valued. E.g., inviting them to share information about their child
- Transitions can be supported through shared professional practices that respect children and honour their rights
- Children benefit from active participation in transition experiences with adults who are:
- Attuned to their needs
- Are warm and positive in their interactions with the children involved
- Are warm and positive in their interactions and with other adults
What the Research Tells Us
Continuity of Learning: A resource to support effective transition to school age care is a valuable tool for Department of Education (DoE) schools and services, and Education and Care (E&C) services. Here we can define school aged care as “recreation, play and leisure-based programmes for children aged 5-12 years in before and after school settings, and in the vacation periods” (Cartmel, 2007, p. iii)
The resource outlines five guiding principles for effective transition to school age care:
- Principle 1: Secure, respectful, and reciprocal relationships
- Principle 2: Partnerships
- Principle 3: High expectations and equity
- Principle 4: Respect for diversity
- Principle 5: Ongoing learning and reflective practice
These principles and practices relate to the guiding principles of approved Learning Frameworks. They align with the Transition to School: Position Statement. (included in the Continuity of Learning resource, page 2). This statement focuses on opportunities, expectations, aspirations and entitlements for all.
- The key to successful transitions for children between settings lies in collaboration. Collaboration between educators and educational leaders in varied early learning environments. Collaboration with families to ensure children’s prior experiences is valued, and current needs are met. (Early Childhood Australia & Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority 2011, p. 29).
- Research into transition to school age care emphasises the importance of communication. Good communication develops strong positive relationships among all those involved in transition. Parents are aware when educators across settings build strong relationships. They know that this has a positive impact on their children (Dockett, S. & Perry, B. (2014). Continuity of Learning: A resource to support effective transition to school and school age care. Department of Education, Canberra)
- Transition to school is an opportunity to build positive connections. Connections between the systems and sectors engaging with children and their families. (Educational Transitions and Change (ETC) Research Group 2011, p. 4).
Expectations and Responsibilities
- Strong Partnerships ensures Department of Education (DoE) schools and services, and Education and Care (E&C) services work together. This collaboration better supports children transition between the two services.
- Leadership teams work actively, respectfully and decisively with each other to support transitions. They deliver on this commitment by collaboratively developing strategies and actions for transitions.
- Equal responsibility must be taken by DoE, and E&C services to work together to support smooth transitions.
Strategies and Ideas to Support Transitions
- Supporting children’s transitions between DoE schools and services, and E&C services is complex work. It is important to understand context and to develop focused, responsive, and agreed approaches.
- Achieving positive transitions occurs through developing and embedding shared and sound transition practices. DoE leaders and E&C leaders should ensure there is understanding of the significance of positive transitions.
- There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to supporting successful transitions. Leaders, teachers, educators, and families need to share information about children. This information sharing supports genuine inclusive practice for all children. This includes children with additional needs, and under Care and Protection Orders. Sharing of information needs to occur with consideration of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
- Children benefit best from transition practices that recognise and respect their cultures. Transitions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, must respect culture. Respectful teachers and educators start by talking with families.
Leadership for Transitions
- Leaders hold considerable responsibility for establishing transition strategies and protocols. These will guide and support their respective teams in their community. Shared understandings displays that everyone is working together to support all children.
- Leaders seek and use data and evidence-based information to develop best-practice approaches. Approaches that shape and support children’s smooth transitions. Leaders share this information with their teams and communicate them to families.
- Leaders create formal and informal communication strategies with staff at various levels. Communication strategies between DoE and E&C services are also used by leaders. This ensures that all children can comfortably transition between individual services.
- Leaders have knowledge of each other’s settings and purpose. They use this knowledge to collaboratively develop transition strategies prioritising children’s wellbeing.
REFLECTIONS FOR LEADERS:
- What do I already know about supporting children’s transitions between DoE schools and services, and E&C services? Have I talked to the leader of my partner school/service to find out what they know?
- What current strategies and practices in place to support children’s transitions between our services? Have I met with the leader of my partnering service to review them?
- How do I find out what children and families expect and want when moving between our service?
- How can my team share information with partner services that will help meet children’s emotional needs?