Transcript of Dockett and Perry – What is transition?

Dockett and Perry – What is transition? podcast

Bob PerryHi I'm Bob Perry and I’m Sue Dockett and we're here to talk to you a little bit about transition to school. Sue, I wonder if we can start by asking you to define what you mean by transition to school?

Sue Dockett – OK, thanks Bob. We’ve spent a lot of time, many years, and had many different experiences, and we’ve talked to people about transition to school: what's important for them and what it means to them. We generally start by defining transitions as a time when individuals change their role or their status in their particular community, and that's a really, really broad definition that applies to each and every one of us. For example, when we first become teachers, we change our role and our identity in a particular structure, whether it be a school or an early childhood setting. When we talk about transition to school, we talk about it in that really, really broad sense of children changing their role, their identity, even their status as they become school students or school children. It's about that broad concept of changing their role in a particular structure.

Bob Perry – We even change the name that we give the children, don’t we? We call them students or pupils when they start school.

Sue Dockett – Yes, certainly as opposed to when they are in childcare or preschool, they are much more referred to as children. But even its noticeable that children themselves change the way they talk about themselves. When we've talked to kindergarten children about who they are or what they're involved in, they’ll often say “well my name’s so and so, I'm five I’m in kinder”, or “I'm at school” and you get a real sense that their identity is changed in that context. They've become a part of that school community. So, in that really, really broad-sense, transition is a time when we change our role, our status, our identity within a particular community, in this case, within a particular school community.

Bob Perry – OK, and the Department of Education has used some language in the guidelines that perhaps we should mention to talk about transition to school. They talk about transition to school being an active process of continuity and change, and I think we will come back to that later as children move into the first year of school. And it’s a process, and it takes time.

Sue Dockett – And it certainly involves a range of people; it’s not something that the child is just going through, on their own, individually. It’s a social process and involves a whole range of people.

Bob Perry – And in the past, we’ve talked a lot about orientation programs, and they’re still very important and the Department recognises that, but they’re the sorts of short term things that occur so that children and families can get to know what’s going to happen: things like uniforms; starting times; all those sorts of things, but they’re not the whole transition.

Sue Dockett – No, if we take that notion of changing your role in a particular context or community structure, we start to look at transition not so much as an event, a ‘one-off’ or even a few events such as a school tour or walking around the school. We start to think of transition as a process; a process that often begins well before an orientation program and a process that doesn't necessarily finish on the first day of school. We talk very much in our research about transition being a time of building relationships and we talk particularly about transition to school not finishing until children, families, educators feel like there's a genuine sense of belonging that's been generated in that community. So, when a child feels like they belong to school we’d say transition has completed. We haven't yet talked about parents, but we will shortly, because it's not just a transition for children. There are transitions for a whole range of people as children make that move to school.

Bob Perry – Would you summarise then by saying that transitions really are about the development of relationships: relationships among the adults; relationships among the educators from prior to school and school; relationships among the children? Are transitions really about relationships?

Sue Dockett – In this case, I’d certainly agree that that’s the case – that transitions are about building relationships, because it is within those relationships, that children build that sense of belonging. It's about feeling like they fit into the school environment, that somebody knows and cares for them, that they actually belong. So, yes, I’d really reiterate that whole point that, in our work, in our expositions of transition, we are really talking about building relationships. And, yes, as you said, you can certainly do some of that through orientation programs, but there's a whole range of other transition practices that are about building and supporting and maintaining those essential relationships.

Bob Perry – So, let’s then leave it at that to start with, and we'll go on, later on, to talk about some of the other aspects of transition to school.

Sue Dockett Great. Lots of things to talk about in terms of transition. Look forward to your company next time. Thanks.

End of podcast

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