Educators can support children to make a positive transition to school when they understand the knowledge and experiences that the children bring and when they collaborate to share this information.
How language progress can be shown
Information provided to schools about children learning English as an additional language (EAL) focuses on the progress learners make. This progress can be shown by:
- how effectively the children are using English to communicate, noting nonverbal and verbal language
- children’s level of confidence and willingness to use English to interact with others
- children’s willingness and ability to sustain communication
- learners’ social development and the way they function in everyday situations, indoors and outdoors, with educators and with other children
- stages of EAL development that the children have reached.
Understanding the difference between school and the service
For children with EAL, transition means there are new names to learn, new people to meet and new things to experience.
The environment of the school may be quite different from what children are used to:
- There may be fewer adults in the room.
- There may be more children using the outdoor playground.
- The rules about how they interact with others may be different from the preschool.
- The verbal language and instructions may be unfamiliar.
- Children may have to interact with more children and of differing ages.
- The school day may be longer.
- The routines are different.
Activities with children that can support transition
Educators in early childhood services can support transition to school in the following ways:
- Discuss school with children and encourage them to ask questions or talk about what concerns them.
- Ask children to draw a picture of what they think school will be like.
- Discuss pictures of school.
- Read stories about school.
- Lend stories about school to families so they can read them in the child’s first language.
- Set up a dramatic play area to role play going to school, providing props such as uniforms, school bags, writing tools, exercise books, lunch boxes, writing samples.
- Play games where children become familiar with their own name when it is written down.
- Encourage children to put their names their paintings.
- Introduce numbers, counting and words as part of a play-based program.
- Collaborate with local schools to arrange visits so that children can spend time at school.
Profiles and transition statements
In order to assist in children’s transition to school, educators need to understand and report on children’s progress in English in the home language, if possible. This helps teachers to plan for the children’s continued development in English.
Educators develop a profile of each child’s knowledge, comprehension and abilities in the home language and in English:
- This information can be provided in the Transition to School Statement of as part of the child’s profile.
- The child’s progress can be recorded against expected stages of development and their readiness for school.
- The child’s profile should reflect ongoing observation, discussions with other educators and the family.
The child’s profile will also include:
- age of the learner
- cultural background
- previous educational experiences such as attending an early years program
- prior literacy experiences including mastery of their first or home language.
The profile may also include sensitive information such as prior experiences; for example, being a refugee or suffering trauma. This information should only be provided as part of a Transition Statement after consultation with families and with their approval. Families need to know and understand what the educator has written in the Statement before they consent to that information being shared with the school.