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What Is Transition?

*The concept of transition is tied closely to the concept of "readiness.

*Starting school is an important time for young children, their families, and educators. It has been described as "one of the major challenges children have to face in their early childhood years" (Victorian Department of School Education, 1992, p. 44), "a big step for all children and their families" (New South Wales Department of School Education, 1997, p. 8), and "a key life cycle transition both in and outside school" (Pianta & Cox, 1999, p. xvii).

*Pianta and Kraft-Sayre (1999, p. 47) suggest that the transition to school "sets the tone and direction of a child's school career," while Christensen (1998) notes that transition to school has been described in the literature as a rite of passage associated with increased status and as a turning point in a child's life.

*Children and families respond differently to the transition to kindergarten. For some it is a smooth process, while for others it is a nightmare - a string of stressful experiences.

*It is a good idea for all parents to prepare and do their "homework" when its time for their child to transition to kindergarten.

*Kindergarten is a context in which children make important conclusions about school as a place where they want to be and about themselves as learners vis-a-vis schools. If no other objectives are accomplished, it is essential that the transition to school occur in such a way that children and families have a positive view of the school and that children have a feeling of perceived competence as learners

*Transition to kindergarten is a process, not a static event. Thus parents must support their child before, during, and after transition. The findings of the studies on children's transition to school conducted by National Centre for Early Development and Learning (NCEDL), USA, confirms that the most important for the transition process are the relationships - those between children and teachers, parents and teachers, children and their peers, and children and their parents. According to parents, when these relationships recognise the needs of the child, and when regular communication occurs about those needs and is sustained over time, children appear to adjust well during this period of change.

*Much of the research relating to children's transition to school has focused on the expectations of teachers and parents while parents and teachers share some common expectations, there are differences between these groups, as well as some within-group differences for teachers, depending on whether they work in prior -to-school or school settings. For example, Haines et al. (1989) reported that teachers in the first year of school focussed on children's ability to function within a classroom environment, whereas preschool teachers placed a strong emphasis on skills they saw as necessary in an successful transition to school.

*Parents and teachers also may have different expectations about transition to school.

*Ensuring that children start school ready to learn requires that attention be paid to one of the most complex and significant changes they will experience-transition to kindergarten.

*Transition practices are implemented by a range of partners, in a variety of settings, and in multiple domains of continuity. While we recognise the importance of curriculum and training, assessment, administrative, and other practices as crucial to ensuring successful transition, we now turn our focus to promising transition practices in the domain of family involvement.

School Based Transition Practices

Schools need to base transition practices on three interrelated principles:

1. Reaching out. Schools reach out and link with families and preschools in order to establish relationships and engage in two-way communication about how to establish effective transition practices.

2. Reaching backward in time. Schools establish links particularly with families before the first day of school.

3. Reaching with appropriate intensity. Schools develop a range of practices with varying intensity (i.e., brochures or pamphlets, high intensity-personal contacts or home visits).