Transitions and life changes for children
In this edition of He Kupu, transitions are defined in terms of the changes in context that occur in one’s lifespan. Formal transitions for some children begin in infancy as the child transitions from the home to the early childhood centre. Transitions also occur within formal institutions, for example when a toddler moves from one room to another. Transitions continue from childhood to adolescence and adolescent to adulthood and can involve shifts in socioeconomic and cultural contexts. How well we prepare children for transitions at an early age, may influence their later transitions (Huf, 2013). Transitions can involve the child experiencing a range of socioeconomic and cultural contexts.
Transitions for preschool children have long been of considerable interest for educators and policy makers, not just in terms of investigating the impact on a child’s academic outcomes, but also in terms of examining the process of adaptation and settling into a new environment. Whether these are transitions from home to an early childhood setting, or transition to school, they are of significant interest for academics. From infancy to childhood, childhood to adolescence and throughout life, transitions form an important part of development and the family life cycle, as well as having long-lasting effects on individuals and their ability to adapt to the process of change.
Transitions can be seen as any changes that a child may experience and are a part of life for us all (Head Start, 2018). These changes may impact on children’s lives over a period of time or may be considered a change in the moment, such as when a child is briefly upset about something without a lasting effect. This article will look at the life changes of children and how these changes influence their behaviours. It will offer ideas of how teachers can support children's emotional needs during these changes. I hope that in reading this, teachers gain a better understanding of how they can identify the feelings and emotions that prompt the behaviours that they observe in children.
For the past nine months, a group of early childhood education services in the East Wellington region of New Zealand have joined together as a professional learning community to benefit the children in their services. This professional learning community is an affiliate group of the kāhui ako/community of learning known as Motu Kairangi. Being part of the Motu Kairangi has encouraged us to develop our own professional learning community, building unity and cohesion across the different early childhood centres with diverse philosophies. One of our first projects as a group was an inquiry to support the self-regulation and resilience of the four-year-old children in our region. This article explains the process we used to set up a professional leanring community, in the hope of encouraging other early childhood education services to join together as professional learning groups to enhance all children’s learning.
The importance of the early years has long been recognised. Positive experiences in the early years help to build children’s learning and development across the lifespan. This article argues that strong collaborative partnerships between school and early childhood educational settings enhance transition experiences for all children, and specifically for gifted children. To ensure gifted children have positive and smooth transitions to school, teachers need to ensure there is sufficient flexibility within transition processes. Teachers also need to have a good understanding of the characteristics of gifted children in order to anticipate and dismantle potential limitations for the children within the transition. Transition to school process needs to cater for individual children and be sufficiently aware of current understandings of giftedness in order to support gifted children. This article considers the characteristics of the gifted child and how transition processes may affect them; and offers recommendations for practice to assist teachers to support the smother transition of gifted children from early childhood education into primary schooling.
As children transition into, or within an early childhood centre they engage in a multitude of new interactions with the people, places and things in the setting. Teacher support for navigating these new environments and the challenges and opportunities within them must be considered. The outdoor environment of an early childhood education setting is a prime opportunity for safe risk-taking for young children, as they climb, run, build, jump and explore. Such risk-taking supports a child to develop an understanding of their body, to manage challenges, understand limits, foster problem-solving and enhance resilience. This article presents the findings from a study that used an online questionnaire to explore early childhood teachers’ beliefs, practices and experiences in relation to safe risk-taking in the outdoor environment, in particular the factors that support or inhibit teachers’ decision-making. Implications for teachers in supporting children to positively navigate safe risk-taking and fostering their learning in these moments, with a focus on times of transition are highlighted.
This book draws on findings from neuroscience and attachment theory to explain how prioritising relationships during the transition process, is beneficial, both for fostering children’s emotional resilience and for developing trust with children and their families. This recently revised second edition includes specific information for toddlers, as well as school readiness and working with families through transitions. The author discusses how young children will typically experience many transitions before the age of five; and for many of them the first major transition will be from their home into an early childhood setting. Adapting to a new environment can be challenging for young children and the stress of managing change and separating from their primary carers can have long-reaching implications for their holistic development, particularly their emotional wellbeing.
The book School Readiness and the Characteristics of Effective Learning: The Essential Guide for Early Years Practitioners aims to guide educators to support children when they move from early childhood education to school. Drawing on her research on transitions and her teaching experiences in England, the author offers her perspective about transitioning to school arguing that school readiness can be a misleading and narrowly defined term. She calls for a holistic approach and a childcentred pedagogy to ensure an optimal transitioning experience so that “children are not being prepared for school but prepared for life” (Grimmer, 2018, p. 179).
This is a comprehensive book highlighting various strategies that teachers and parents can adopt to promote children’s school readiness for transition to kindergarten in the United States. Edited by Andrew Mashburn, Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch, and Katherine Pears, the book opens with a theoretical consideration of how transition can be conceptualised. According to the framework presented, signficance is given not only to the change of context for the child, but equally to the characteristics of the children and how these characteristics are responded to by others. This is reflective of Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological approach in which the individual child is understood to both shape and be shaped by the context in which they are embedded.
Andrea Delaune, Barbara Scanlan, Ché Hancock, Emily Gott, Galina Stebletsova, Jo Dean, Dr Karyn Aspden, Sue Nicolson, Dr Tara McLaughlin, Vikki Hanrahan