Preparing for the Next Step

Preparing for the Next Step

Thursday, 2 November 2017  | Wendy Early Years Coordinator
At this time of year we are all thinking about what next year will look like. Last week we said goodbye to our Year 12s and I’m sure they are all thinking about how their life will change forever as their school life comes to a close. We pray that wisdom and discernment will be a part of the decision process for our students and we wish them well in their future endeavors.

At every stage of life we are required to think about what the next step will be, and how to best prepare for the change ahead. Year 9 students are thinking about Year 10 and various VCE subjects that will shape their future prospects, or maybe students are considering Ranges TEC as an option. Year 6 students will be preparing for the changes that face them in Year 7. While these transitions are recognized as significant, students at all levels need to participate in intentional transition programs. MECS teachers have planned various events to give our students plenty of opportunities to engage with and prepare for the next step.

At MECS we value the process of preparation to help students get ready for the changes that are inevitable. Being prepared for the next big step in our lives well in advance is extremely beneficial.

Last week marked the beginning of Transition to School for our 2018 Foundation students. During Term 3 our Foundation teachers embarked on the traditional ‘kinder visits’ - a vital first step for children getting to know the teachers in the kinder environment where they are already known and ‘safe’. Preparation for coming to school for the first time isn’t just about making sure your child is ready to learn how to read and count. Empowering children with confidence is the key to a successful transition. There is bountiful research into how to make this transition smooth for children, and there is a consistent finding that it’s not so much about knowing academics such as knowing letters or how to count to ten. The vital thing is feeling confident in the relationships that you have with your family and friends, and having well-developed social skills. It has been well documented that if a child has real difficulties adjusting to the social environment they’re more likely to encounter difficulties.

MECS kinder children are privileged to be able to spend time within the school, begin to build relationships with teachers, walk around the school and begin to explore areas such as the library and the playground, learn where the boundaries are and where the toilets are (most important!). MECS Kinder is perfectly placed for this natural transition, which has been happening all year long; children have a sense of ‘belonging’ well before they come to school! Children new to MECS also participate in the transition program, so that all children are helped to feel safe and happy in the face of change as best as possible.

Here are some tips for successful transition to school, and maybe with some adapting these helpful ideas could apply to older students transitioning too:

1. Build relationships between parent and teachers, child and teachers, and between the children as well.
2. Practise being able to operate in a larger group. This is something that we are continually practising at kinder, but something you can also do at home. Have a few friends over to build up awareness that you can’t always have the first go, and you may have to wait to get attention because when you are one out of 22 or more, you need to be independent and able to follow directions.
3. Build independence. Give children responsibilities around the home such as setting the table, packing their own bags, feeding the family pet, etc. Children are also learning to follow instructions and practising doing something structured, at a time that may not suit them.
4. Talk positively about the next step, but don’t overdo it. I know some children who were disappointed after their first day at school because they didn’t learn to read on the first day!
5. Build confidence. With confidence comes a willingness to learn. If children believe they are smart and can learn things then they’ll reach out to new knowledge and be prepared to take risks in their learning, because learning is a risk. It’s reaching out into the unknown.
6. One more recommendation, no matter how old your child is; read, read, read together (or in the case of older students discuss what’s been read). Read stories, tell stories, and look up information about areas of interest. Reading and hearing stories and having conversations with adults are the best language building experiences, and language; speaking and listening, underpins everything a child needs to do at school.

Transitions can be and usually are really exciting and positive times. However it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when we change environments, so it can help our anxiety levels if we have a bit of preparation. It’s a big step in life, but we’ve all had to take it and it’s easier if there’s someone there to support us.

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