Practices Aiding Positive Start to School - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-12-31
Practices Aiding Positive Start to School - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Education School Child development
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1518 words
13 min read


For a young child transitioning and adapting to life in school plays a huge role in their life, especially during their first year. The successful transition of children is also important to the stakeholders, such as the children's educators and families. The concerns and questions raised by early childhood education stakeholders have been on what encompasses a successful and smooth transition? And on what impact does the transition of children to the first year of schooling has on the children, families, learning institutions, and society.

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According to Perry and Docket (2008), the start to school for any child marks a milestone in their life as they experience changes in characters, personalities, and expectations (Einarsdottir et al., 2008). They note that the switching period can be difficult and perplexing to most children, especially to indigenous children, those with varied abilities, children from disadvantaged homes, and children from diverse cultures (Einarsdottir et al., 2008).

Ecological Approach to Transition

Theoretical Approach

According to a drawing of ecological theory by Urie Bronfenbrenner, the theory identifies an individual inside a sequence of interpersonal and intrapersonal interactions. The interactions consist of relationships between people, the physical and social environment (Bronfenbrenner, 1995). Relationship with other individuals include people such as family members, the pre-school teacher, and the children. Relationships with the physical environment include the community, school, and home, while the social environment includes cultural beliefs, rituals, and practices (Bronfenbrenner, 1995). An ecological approach in pre-school transition recognizes the importance of interaction and relationships between children, teachers, the community, and families. The approach also recognizes the importance of the children's distinct abilities, qualities, and skills in dealing with connections and relationships for a successful transition from pre-school and future transitions (Astbury, 2009).

The Bronfenbrenner ecological theory suggests four interrelated structures that need to be considered when approaching transition; they include microsystems, exosystems, macrosystems, and mesosystems. Microsystems consist of the child’s immediate surroundings that influence their interactions (Smith et al., 2010). Exosystems consist of the social environment that influences the child; they include policies and organizational structures. Mesosystems are the supportive structures within the child's immediate environment that are essential to their development; they include people, the environment, and materials. Macrosystems refer to the elements within the child's culture, such as the laws, values, and customs (Bronfenbrenner, 1995). The four structures intersect and intertwine to impact the child’s interaction with people, activities, and the environment (Smith et al., 2010).

The Practice of Ecological Approach to Transition in Schools

There are diverse programs, practices, policies, and curricula that learning institutions employ to facilitate smooth transitioning in early childhood education (Smith et al., 2010). However, the most common organizational approach used by most schools is the hierarchical approach. In the hierarchical approach, the schools develop policies, programs, and practices separately. The approach includes little or no consultation, discussion, or partnership with other institutions, families, or children (Smith et al., 2010).

The hierarchical approach is characterized by seclusion. The interaction of families and children is conducted on a platform developed by the learning institutions or early childhood environments (Smith et al., 2010). In this model, the learning institutions within early childhood settings provide the information within the set policies and programs, while the families and children are not expected to question the policies or practices but only seek clarification on them. The approach results in a disjointed and disconnected approach that has the potential of impacting stress to the families and children. In comparison, the ecological approach to transition demands a cooperative approach to developing, implementing, and assessing the transition program, policies, and practices. The ecological approach offers a precise result for children, families, and teachers, thus improving the interaction between individuals and learning environments.

With the use ecological approach, the outcome on the children's perspective entails improved start and adjustment to the school setting, developing a liking to school, developing a positive attitude towards education, low levels of anxiety or stress, and improved interaction with the teachers. On families, the ecological approach can provide outcomes such as better interactions with educators, enhanced comprehension of the happenings in school, high levels of engagement on the child's education, and low levels of stress due to separation from the child. On the educators, the ecological approach has the potential impact of improving inter-agency cooperation, improved understanding of the family context, broad awareness of the importance of successful transition, and enhanced planning for children and families.

Programs, Practices, and Policies for Successful Transition

Companion Programs

For a successful transition, it has been established that friendship or having a companion to be one of the vital factors (Fisher, 2009). Peer connections are essential in ensuring progressive adjustment and a seamless transition to school. The companion programs involve linking children who are starting school to an older child whose purpose is to act as a friend and provide information and help, especially during playtime (Fisher, 2009). Studies conducted on companion programs have shown that they can be essential in a seamless transition for children in their first year of starting school (Yeo & Clarke, 2005).

In the implementation of companion programs they can vary in terms of age of the older children, the time of linking the two, the kinds of activities they are supposed to undertake, and to what degree is the older child prepared to support the program (Smith et al., 2010). However, the common practice with companion programs is that the older children are linked with the transitioning children a year or a week before they join the school (Smith et al., 2010).

Reciprocal Visits for Educators

Reciprocal visits for educators' programs involve teachers from early childhood school conduction visits to each other school’s setting (Smith et al., 2010). The visits aim to establish support for both the pre and post-transition programs for educators, families, and children (Fisher, 2009). Research conducted on reciprocal visits for educators has established that by encouraging discussion and sharing of information between educators may enable the schools to establish better and informed transitional policies, programs, and practices (Astbury, 2009). The sharing of information also enables educators to provide a continuity of successful learning activities for specific children and groups (Yeo & Clarke, 2005). The continuity of learning for children has the potential impact of providing a successful and positive start to school life as the knowledge on the best practices and policies are shared between educators.

Although reciprocal visits for educators can establish an opportunity through sharing of knowledge about children and practices in an appropriate manner, however, the effectiveness and sustainability of the program need the establishment of structural support for teachers to overcome barricades in conducting visits such as inadequate time (Smith et al., 2010). In addition to the physical visits, educators could also contact each other through voice calls and email conversations.

Family Involvement

Family involvement programs and policies include providing transition experiences to families by offering them an opportunity to engage educators to establish school programs and activities (Smith et al., 2010). Through inclusion, the programs, policies, and practices developed can meet the local community's specific needs and adhere to the cultural and community values (Smith et al., 2010). While conducting family involvement programs, it is paramount for the educators to factor in the community and individual family backgrounds. In practice, the educators meet with the children's families before the schooling commences (Smith et al., 2010). Hence, the teachers can foster a relationship with the families that enables them to establish the student's needs for a smooth transition.


The process of transition for first-time students among young children is a crucial event in their lives. While other families may experience a seamless transition, other families may face challenges during the transition period. Children from families that are disadvantaged economically may face difficulties and experience a discontinuous transition process. Various research has shown that the quality of a child's transition impacts their future greatly; hence, every child deserves to have a positive start to formal education.

The positive transition of children into formal education requires rigorous planning, communication, cooperation, time, and resources for the program to be successful. The ecological approach to transition offers a platform for developing a program that factors in the various elements and types of needs for families and children beginning their formal schooling. Programs such as establishing a companion and for the young children and the cooperation of families and educators can play a vital role in ensuring a smooth transition for young children starting their schooling.


Astbury, B. (2009). Evaluation of transition: A positive start to school pilots. Melbourne: University of Melbourne Center for Program Evaluation.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1995). Developmental ecology through space and time: A future perspective. Washington: APA Books.

Einarsdottir, L., Perry, B., & Docket, S. (2008). Transition to school practices: Comparisons from Iceland and Australia. An International Journal of Research and Development, 47-60.

Fisher, J. A. (2009). "We used to play in Foundation, it was more funnier": Investigating feelings about transition from Foundation Stage to Year 1. Early Years, 29(2), 131-145.

Smith, K., Kotsanas, C., Farrelly, A., & Alexander, K. (2010). Research into practices to support a positive start to school. Melbourne: The University of Melbourne.

Yeo, L. S., & Clarke, C. (2005). Starting school: A Singapore story told by children. Australian Journal of Early Childhood Education, 30(3), 1-9.

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