Transitions in early learning

Leaders in early childhood education from Canterbury University have prepared seven pieces of thinking on Transitions.

While we are discussing transitions within the Advisory Group for Early Learning (AGEL) and the outcomes of these discussion will be shared soon, these articles are still relevant to the early learning and school sectors. Each piece is shaped to be a 'provocation' for the reader. Reflective questions for the reader are woven into the text.

The views expressed in the pieces are those of the writers. Their names are indicated at the bottom of each page within this section.

Transitions in early learning – into, within and beyond

Tūngia te ururua, kia tupu whakaritorito te tupu o te harakeke!
Clear the undergrowth so that the new shoots of the flax will grow.

Moving into a new environment is a time of change and adaptation for children, their families/whānau and teachers. This time of change, commonly referred to as a transition, involves forming new relationships, roles, and responsibilities, and spans the time between preparing for the move to a new environment, to when the child and family/whanau are more fully established members of the new community.

Transitions in the early years include:

  • Enrolling and participating at an early childhood education setting for the first time.
  • Moving from one age-specific area to another. For example, moving from under-twos to over-twos and afternoon kindergarten to morning.
  • Changing from one setting to another. For example, leaving kindergarten to start playcentre.
  • Entering a new group. For example, moving from the 'toddler group' to 'big kids'.
  • Starting school. For example, starting home-schooling or attending a local school.
  • How do you pay attention and respond to the transitions that children make during their time in your setting?

Individuals respond to change differently. Some may be excited, some take it in their stride, while others experience anxiety. During early childhood transitions parents/whānau and even teachers can experience these emotions, as do transitioning children. Transition is an issue for every child, and their family/whanau, participating in an early childhood education setting, regardless of the type of early childhood education community they are a part of.

  • How does your setting support families and whanau at transitioning times?

A child does not adapt to, and cope with, change in isolation. Parents, whānau, families, siblings, peers, and teachers in the child's world all play an important part in facilitating the process of change with children. Teachers have a crucial role to play in supporting and scaffolding both the child and family/whānau as they navigate their way into unfamiliar environments.

  • How are you ready to scaffold each child's transition?
  • What processes are in place for supporting children during these transition times?

This section introduces reflections on what we do, why we do it, and what it means for children and families/whānau experiencing transitions. We draw on the evaluation framework developed by Podmore et al. (2001) to position the pieces of writing and to engage the reader in thinking carefully about everyday pedagogy in relation to transitions into, within and beyond early childhood settings. The child's questions sit within the frame of Te Whāriki and lead the reader to reflect on Te Whāriki in action within their own setting. You are invited to explore your practices from the child's perspective as you read the materials that arouse your curiosities.

Te WhārikiReflectionsThe 'Child's questions'Link to material in this section
Belonging Do you appreciate and understand my interests and abilities and those of my family? Do you know me? Moving from Pasifika immersion to a Palagi primary school

Do you meet my daily needs with care and sensitive consideration?

Can I trust you? Collaborative relationships and sharing responsibility
Exploration Do you engage my mind, offer challenges, and extend my world? Do you let me fly?

What we have in common – curriculum connections

Becoming bi-literate: Storytelling from the centre

Communication Do you invite me to communicate and respond to my own particular efforts? Do you hear me? Listening to different perspectives
Contribution Do you encourage and facilitate my endeavours to be part of the wider groups? Is this place fair for us? Two-year olds in a kindergarten: becoming a 'Kindy Kid'

This paper was prepared by Jocelyn Wright, University of Canterbury, 2009.


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