The write approach helps in transition to big school

Older students play an integral role in Boambee Public’s Kindergarten orientation, writes Vanessa Lahey.

Image: Preschool twins Brody and Dylan with their buddy letters meeting their big school buddies Liam and Cody for the first time (left to right).

Boambee Public School on the state’s mid-north coast is using letter writing as a tool to help make the transition from early childhood learning to ‘big school’ easier for pre-schoolers.

The initiative is just one of the innovations that has made the school the gold standard when it comes to this all-important journey for children.

The Boambee Public School’s transition program also includes multiple visits to early childhood services and an orientation program that involves shorter, more regular school visits, which allow incoming students to better develop familiarity with the physical school environment and build relationships with school staff and other students.

Key to the program is also developing relationships across the school cohort through a buddy system.

Under the school’s scheme a student from years 4 or 5 accepts the duty of taking a pre-schooler under their wing and writing and mailing a letter to their preschool buddy.

Learning Support Teacher and one of the transition-to-school program coordinators Sue Grant said having a buddy helped pre-school children settle into school.

“The older students love writing these letters, they get very excited to talk about how wonderful our school is and how much there is to do here. They speak of the interests they have at school, what the teachers are like and how excited they are to meet their buddy,” Ms Grant said.

“The older students hope they can make a difference in their little buddy's new experience at big school. In the process, they learn the skill of letter writing and the social impact of being responsible for a little one and respect those who are different to them, to keep them safe and happy at school.”

Ms Grant said the transition to school program also supported the school’s overall vision for its students, which was to exhibit a positive behaviour for learning; to be respectful and safe; and have a sense of belonging.

She said there were numerous benefits to the young children who took part in the transition to school program.

Ms Grant said the participant pre-schoolers were far more comfortable and confident to walk into school and happily say goodbye to their parents/carers at the gate.

“Not only do the youngsters have their buddies to walk them around to their classrooms for the first couple of sessions, they also have ready-made partner to participate in activities in the kinder rooms. The buddies will also have lunch with their little kinder buddy on these days,” Ms Grant said.

The transition from pre-school to kindergarten is not only a big part of a child’s life, but also the early childhood educators who nurture the children through the process.

Little Hands Boambee assistant director Nicole Kafer said it was bittersweet for staff.

“As an educator I love watching our children who start with us at just two years old grow over their years at preschool and leave us for big school! It’s such a beautiful experience. We do get sad knowing that their time with us at preschool is coming to an end,” Ms Kafer said.

Ms Kafer said the main benefits of children attending kindergarten orientations was giving the child a sense of belonging in their new school environment while familiarising them with the school logo, uniform, classrooms, teachers and new friends.

“Starting school can be very overwhelming for children. We discuss ‘big school’ all year with our preschool group to develop their identity and feelings as they transition to school. We also work with our families to help their children get the best start at kindergarten,” Ms Kafer said.

For more information visit our Transition to school resources or read the Boambee Public School case study.

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