Whole school involvement
Continuous process 6.1.2
From kindergarten to primary school, children have to cope with various changes and challenges in different educational stages. When children ﬁ rst join a kindergarten, there may be some behavioural problems caused by anxiety, such as reluctance to go to school or reverting behaviours. Nevertheless, these challenges, if handled in an appropriate manner, can be regarded as precious opportunities for children, allowing them to learn not only how to solve problems but also how to develop confidence in response to the changing environment. These experiences will lay a good foundation for their future learning and promote their interest in life-long learning. As such, pre-primary institutions and parents should work together to help children undergo the transition period.
From home to school
That children live with their family members from birth ensures the development of a trusting and intimate relationship. Children’s admission to a pre-primary institution marks the beginning of schooling, which means to children the ﬁ rst, albeit short, separation from their families. It requires an effort on their part to learn to get along with teachers and fellow children in unfamiliar circumstances.
As this is a rather big challenge for young children, pre-primary institutions should collaborate with parents to help children adapt to life in the institutions.
Assisting new entrants is not necessarily a task restricted to class teachers or teachers concerned. Instead, to help new entrants adapt to the new environment requires the involvement of the entire staff in formulating and implementing the relevant measures. Through co-operation and co-ordination, the principal, teachers and other staff should make children feel accepted and cared for, so that a good relationship is established between the children and the institution.
Before the start of a school year, pre-primary institutions may obtain through the parents information about the new entrants’ living habits, family
Contribution of parents
background and health conditions, so as to design an appropriate adaptation programme. The length of the adaptation period may vary with individuals. Pre-primary institutions should evaluate children’s needs continuously and conduct the related programmes with ﬂ exibility. In the case of children who enrol after the commencement of the school year, pre-primary institutions should also assist them in adapting to life in the institutions and make ﬂ exible arrangements depending on actual needs.
Parents’ co-operation and support are very important. Pre-primary institutions may engage parents through a variety of activities, such as gatherings for parents, seminars, talks, etc. By briefing parents on the arrangements for a new school year and sharing information about parental education, pre-primary institutions encourage parents to work closely with them in order to support the healthy and happy development of children at this critical stage of their growth.
i. Gatherings for parents
P a re n t s a re i n v i t e d t o h a v e a n o r i e n t a t i o n m e e t i n g p r i o r t o t h e commencement of the school year, so that they can get an idea of the new environment and teachers. Institutions should provide parents with information about the institutions’ mission, learning environment, curriculum modes, detailed arrangements for the new school year, problems commonly encountered by new entrants, and the relevant solutions.
Institutions should also listen to parents’ views, know their concerns, and enhance communication between the two parties in order to get children prepared for the start of school.
ii. Parental education
Teachers should brief parents on children’s developmental characteristics and lear ning needs, in order to help them better understand the initial problems encountered by children in school, and introduce the corresponding solutions to parents, so as to prevent their over-anxiety.
iii. Individual communication
Teachers may communicate with parents, whenever possible, at times when parents bring their children to and pick them up from the pre-primary institutions. Teachers may also make use of home visits to learn more about children’s behaviour, family background and the attitudes of parents.
Effective communication with parents will help to solve problems.
Interface between Kindergarten and Primary School
Arrangements for enhancing
i. Pre-primary institutions should plan special programmes to be conducted on the first school day and at the beginning of the school year. These programmes allow parents to accompany children in class and the frequency should be gradually reduced depending on children’s needs.
In this way, children can gradually adapt to short separation from family members, and parents can also learn more about the institutions.
ii. Teachers should ﬁ rst and foremost take care of children’s emotions. They should also provide children with enough support for learning and get along with children through trust, so as to help them adapt to the new environment as soon as possible.
iii. Children should be guided to progressively learn the school norms and get along with their peers.
iv. Teachers should offer children a welcoming environment to let them feel that school life is an extension of family life. The kind attitude of staff in the institutions helps foster a sense of security in children and lets them learn peacefully in a new environment.
From kindergarten to primary school
The learning mode in kindergartens is different from that in primary schools and the ecological environments are also different. During their early days in primary schools, children may need to cope with various adaptation problems. To help children adapt in the transition period, kindergartens and primary schools should communicate with each other well in advance. Parents should be well-prepared to help children deal with the psychological and emotional frustrations that may emerge in a new stage of learning. When preparing children for the transition, they may make reference to the Helping Children to Adapt to Their New Primary School Life and the Basic Education Curriculum Guide (Chapter 9) edited by the Curriculum Development Institute.
Kindergarten and primary education are different in terms of the learning environment and curriculum modes. Since the learning experiences of children in kindergartens are being useful to them in helping them develop an interest
in learning and acquire basic learning abilities, they lay a good foundation for formal education. Helping children complete the kindergarten curriculum is a crucial task to facilitate the interface between kindergarten and primary school.
It is desirable for upper kindergarten teachers to make reference to the primary school curriculum. However, they are not encouraged to teach the primary curriculum in kindergartens, for this may exert undue pressure on preschool children.
To help children adapt to their new learning life, primary one teachers should know the pre-primary curriculum in order to design a transition programme catering for the children’s needs. In order to review and adjust the adaptation measures, it is advisable for kindergartens to keep close contact with primary schools, so that they can keep abreast of the latest developments of the primary curriculum. Experience of the alumni in adaptation to primary school life might be helpful in this respect. Moreover, subject to the parents’ consent, kindergartens may also provide primary schools with children’s kindergarten learning records, so that primary teachers can know more about the children and adjust the programme accordingly, in order to help children adapt smoothly to primary school life.