Transition to School

Identified Community Need
It has become apparent over the last 6 months there is a growing need for a shared understanding from within the community, parents and Kindergartens around what constitutes school readiness.  How well are ECEs at providing and ensuring their children are 'Ready' and how well informed are parents about the expectations of their children transitioning from Early Childhood providers into a school setting.  Last year I formed links with Sommerville Kindergarten, where their teachers came and observed our teachers in action as well as our students.  I also held a 'School Readiness' parent info evening sharing with parents an overview of what happens at school.

Changes in Team Leader
This year the team leader for Kakariki has changed.  The previous Team Leader has now moved to become the Team Leader in Year 2, therefore we have appointed an experienced teacher to be the new New Entrants Team Leader.  
One aspect of my role is to liaise with the Team Leader to keep up to date with class placements and student numbers throughout the year and to identify when the next classes will begin, (through out the terms).  This in turn defines when we will need to employ new teaching staff.  
The handover of relevant information from previous Team Leaders has allowed for the Pukeko Programme to continue to evolve and remain a strong transition programme for our beginning students and their families.  The Team Leader and I have met and discussed what this looks like for 2016 and the importance of keeping families informed of the Pukeko Programme and the up and coming visits for their child(ren).

Looking Forward- Pukeko Programme 2016
There has been a huge uptake in our Transition to School Programme this year 2015 'Pukekos'.    In order to meet the needs of the children and their parents attending CBS we have had to Reflect on the needs of our community and the growing number of children enrolling at CBS.  Therefore we continue to evolve in our vision and purpose for the Pukeko Programme.  At the beginning of the year the children transitioning to CBS were offered anywhere from 6-10 sessions before they began school.  Parent Discussions were organised around these visits.  Because of the number of students now enrolling throughout the year we are now offering 4 sessions to both parents and their children, and I have reworked the Parent Discussion to work in with this.
Pukeko Parent Discussions T1 2016

Liaising with Local Pre-schools
Over the past term I have been liaising with the local kindergarten.  We have held meaningful discussions around our learners and shared our visions for holistic development, particularly regarding the Education Review Office document, Continuity of Learning transitions from Early Childhood services to Schools.  Placing this as the forefront of a successful transition I invited teachers from Somerville Kindergarten to come and observe our Pre-entry programme.  This enabled the teachers to see the next stage in their students development and reflect on how they support their children's personal, social and emotional development, as well as the beginning stages of their academic progress, in becoming 'school ready'.  They in turn asked if I could speak to their parents around school readiness.  It was a successful evening with positive feedback from the kindergarten and parents.  It was beneficial to see CBS & Somerville Kindergarten had the same shared understanding and philosophy regarding the wellbeing of our children and their development and learning journey.  At the beginning of the year I visited a number of local pre-schools and kindergartens introducing myself.  I will be doing this again next year, with the intent of opening our doors for Early Childhood Educators to observe our school and the programme we offer.

 Education Review Office 
                 National Report April 2015
Continuity of Learning has been published in regards to the continuity of learning, transitions from early childhood services to schools.  It outlines key areas that allow for successful transitions from early child hood to school.  It was pleasing to note there are many ways that CBS does as part of our  Pukeko programme that assists children and parent's transition to school.  I also notes other areas where we could improve, possible enrolment interviews, how well do our teachers use the information around children's interests and strengths for future learning.  Lastly as I have added to the parent discussion afternoons, I need to seek feedback from parents as to how useful these are, and self review our Pukeko Programme, from the children's and parents perspective.
I have also arranged for a local kindergarten to come and visit our New Entrant classrooms, so they have a better understanding of what happens for their children when they start school.  They have also asked me speak at parents evening about beginning school to help inform their parents.

Pukeko Pre School Programme
Cockle Bay School has developed a transition to school programme.  Once pre schoolers are enrolled we are able to offer them a place in our Pukeko Transition to School Programme.  This comprises of around 6 visits to a foundation class, where the children get a 'taste' of school.  Meeting their classroom teacher, becoming familiar with a school environment and feeling secure and confident before they actually begin creates a positive start to school for the child and their parents.  It also allows the teachers to observe the children,  how they engage and interact as well as their personal social, emotional and academic abilities. As part of this programme the parents attend informative discussions whilst their children are in class.  We discuss ways they can support their child in Literacy, Numeracy, Foundation Skills and ICT, as well as other information about our curriculum and the general ins and outs of beginning school, eg uniform, fees etc.  This forum is ideal for parents who have any questions, queries or concerns, and allows us as a school to be open and transparent about expectations and teaching and learning.  When I arrived at Cockle Bay School there were a few parent information afternoons already taking place.  I added to this Literacy, Numeracy, Assessment and a parent discussion on Foundation Skills.
Assessment Presentation

Interesting Article
In the Herald an article outlined

'Half of NZ kids not adequately prepared for school'

Six ways teachers can make the transition to school easier

1. Holding a '4-year-old' meeting to begin the dialogue with parents about transition to school.
2. ECEs staying in contact with children who have gone to school for a period of 12 weeks after they leave. These children are welcome to come back to visit.
3. ECEs making learning journals for all children approaching school which show the youngsters' developing dispositions and skills, which they can take to school.
4. Schools displaying photos of children before they start, so that other pupils know they are coming and can welcome them.
5. Schools having a formal 'buddy' system to support new entrants. Buddies are either classmates or senior pupils.
6. Organising an enrolment pack, familiarisation visits and meetings with staff all provide good information for parents.
Reflecting on these points, I believe 4 and 5 are areas that we could improve upon.  Next steps, at the beginning of term 3 I am visiting one of the Kindergartens in our area to speak with parents in regards to what it means for their child to begin school.  However as this article suggests it is difficult to visit all of the providers.  I am also going to suggest as I have previously that ECE teachers are welcome to come and visit our school and take part in our parent discussion programmes as well as visit our Pukeko Pre-school Class.

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