Kindergarten orientation and transition 2020-21

Schools have been advised that Kindergarten orientation and transition to school activities remain on hold until further notice.

The following advice is provided to support schools to consider alternate ways to engage families and children in preparation for starting school in 2021.

Schools can draw on some of the innovative ideas that they came up with during the Learning from home phase.

Transition practices, including orienting children and families to the school environment, experiences and routines remain an important priority for ensuring children have a strong and successful start to school. The current situation presents opportunities for schools to reflect on the ways that they:

  • build relationships with children and establish a sense of belonging
  • collaborate with families to ensure children are known, valued and cared for
  • connect with early childhood services to share information about children’s learning
  • engage with support services and local AECG to ensure holistic support and early intervention and culturally safe practices.

Schools should be planning for a range of contingencies, to allow them to hold off from usual activities supporting transition, to being completely online.

Some ideas for school

Connect remotely

  • Create appropriate digital medium that is already successful in your school. Perhaps a closed Kindergarten dedicated social media page could be created.
  • Create a video or sound recording with messages from the Principal, executive and ES1 teachers. Distribute via email, social media, or other platforms.
  • Conduct live virtual school tours, sharing uniform information, canteen process, library.
  • Record podcasts, take photos or create social stories and share via email or post.
  • Get older students to record messages or short video clips to send to children and parents, sharing their experiences starting school. Buddy systems can also be carried out in the same way, with older students supporting their ‘buddy’ via digital mediums.
  • Teacher reading stories from the kindergarten classroom environment, and filming the environment to create some familiarity.
  • Schedule a live event for a Q and A forum specifically for students transitioning, encourage parents to write or draw with children about their expectation for school and share with the school.
  • Create packages that can be sent home. These could include: social stories, relevant staff photos, activities, photos of the kindergarten environment, and any information contextual to the school.
  • Schools need to prepare for a range of options, dependent on the ever changing information available at any one time. Each school is unique, and need to consider what works best for them, taking into account current advice and their local community.
  • Liaise with your Director Educational Leadership (DEL) to consider any situations where you may need any modified ways of engaging with children and families (for example small or remote schools, or children with high additional needs).
  • School services are continuing to support schools. Please contact your area P-2 Initiatives Officer if you require advice or support with your planning.

Seek input or feedback

  • Survey new families and use feedback to plan specific sessions tailored to requests (for example BSKA, library and home readers).
  • Schedule phone or video meetings with local early childhood services, early intervention and other therapy support (speech etc.).
  • Host an online information session, where preschools could invite the group of families enrolling in your school next year.
  • Provide families with links to relevant website (for example cultural, multilingual, disability).
  • Encourage parents to engage in department website information for families Early Learning resources such as podcasts, activity suggestions and links to learning.

Differentiated approaches

  • Provide families with a means that enables them a safe way to meet either the principal or Kindergarten teacher.
  • Find out if there are any children who might require a more targeted approach (for example disability) and offer single families or small groups of children an orientation visit, ensuring any current social distancing rules are complied with. This could be planned later in the year.
  • The Learning and Wellbeing team still play a role in liaising with schools re new students. Schools should ensure that they have enough information and resourcing to support these students as they transition. next year.

Suggested guidance for families

  • Engage your child with any digital information provided by your school. Discuss with your child.
  • Phone the school and enquire about online enrolment, ask any admin related questions, provide information.
  • Arrange an online meeting with the principal or kindergarten teacher.
  • Access the department's Learning from Home page.
  • Work closely with your preschool or early childhood service to ensure that connections occur, for example running a Microsoft Teams meeting with the local school from the preschool.
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