Transition to school

Transition programs impact a child's engagement with school, their wellbeing and ongoing learning trajectory. A transition to school program is developed in response to the needs of the children and parents within the local context.

Orientation versus transition

A transition program is different to an orientation program. An orientation program helps children and families become familiar with the school. It comprises one or two visits to the school which provide information for children and families.

Transition processes take a much broader focus and are collaboratively planned and evaluated by all involved. Transition is most successful when the context from which children come is considered within the new context.

A transition program includes:

  • a set of planned experiences or a process established over a longer period of time.
  • information sessions and workshops for parents
  • ongoing experiences for the children

Do I need a transition program?

A transition to school program provides support to children and their families as they prepare for school. Transitions are implemented to build reciprocal relationships between children, staff and families.  Building on children's prior and current experiences helps them to feel secure, confident and connected to familiar people, places, events and understandings. Transitions assist children to understand the new routines, practices and expectations of the setting to which they are moving and help them to feel more confident and familiar with the process of change.

Reflection questions to consider:

  • What does your school currently do to support transitions? How is your transition program supporting children, families and staff and/or what improvements could be made?
  • Does your school need to make stronger connections with existing early childhood and community services?
  • Does the data from the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) confirm a level of vulnerability in your community?
  • Is there a pattern of poor school attendance by some families? How could this be addressed through transition?

Successful transition models

Some successful models include:

  • increasing the number of transition sessions by providing more experiences for parents and children to visit the school over a 6 month period.
  • a playgroup based at the school which provides informal sessions for parents and children to attend together
  • the Beginning School Well program where parents and children participate in a supported playgroup with mentors to support families.
  • a weekly early literacy or numeracy program involving parents and children over two terms where parents and children attend a weekly session with a  specific focus on literacy or numeracy

Please contact a transition adviser for more detailed information on each model.

Australian Early Development Census

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data helps schools plan for the needs of children arriving at school. It can help schools identify areas where children and families in the community need additional support to achieve positive outcomes.

The AEDC is a measure of how children have developed by the time they start school in the areas of:

  • physical health and wellbeing
  • social competence
  • emotional maturity
  • language and cognitive skills
  • communication skills and general knowledge
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