Successful Transition to School-Successful Transition to School-Author Default
Esther Hunter
Head of Lower School
September 01, 2023

Successful Transition to School

Successful Transition to School-Successful Transition to School-BISB_Boston_Nov 2022_005
By Esther Hunter ( British International School of Boston, Head of Lower School)
Tips to prepare for a successful school transition.

The summer days are fading away, trips are enjoyed, and you are back home and the return to school is here! This is the time to start planning the children’s transition to school, be it either as a new student or a returning one. Transition is an important factor in any child’s educational journey and there are some key areas to consider when planning for a successful process. 

If your child is new to the school or attending school for the first time, this is a pivotal moment in their, and your life. Starting a new school is an exciting opportunity to join a new community, make new friends, explore a new learning environment and to develop additional knowledge and skills. A smooth transition to school e.g., one in which children come to make new friends and understand and follow the routines and expectations of the classroomcan increase the likelihood of children’s personal, social, emotional and academic outcomes for years to come. When children participate in a quality transition process they have a much better time academically, they achieve greater social and emotional competencies, and they rapidly develop skills and understanding. Quality transitions are those in which families, schools and communities work together as a team to support children, share information and create continuity in curriculum, relationships and expectations across learning settings.

Family is a constant factor for children as they move into a new school setting or a new Year Group and the role of family is fundamental to the children’s experience of transition. Families have an important responsibility in providing children with stability, comfort and a sense of what is to come and for big children and small ones there are a variety of ways to smooth the process:

  • Establish a consistent routine with early bedtimes and regular mealtimes.

  • Encourage independence with small children through putting on their own shoes and socks and trying to use the zipper on their coat. With older children the emphasis is on being prepared for learning so packing their own backpack with the resources they need and ensuring their iPad is charged ready for class. Remembering to return library books on the correct day is also important for young and older children.

  • Instill the value of a ‘growth mindset’ which emphasizes resilience and persistence when approaching new learning or investigations.

  • Acknowledge children’s anxious feelings if they experience them. Starting school is like the first day in a new job with less of the predictability that being a grown up brings.

  • Talk to the children about what their day will look like – will they be taking the bus? Will they be going to a club or aftercare? Are they having a packed lunch or school lunch? How many children will be in their class? Who is their homeroom teacher? All of these variables can affect a child’s positive transition to their new classroom and reassurance is the key to alleviating any worries or concerns.

  • Establish a positive relationship with other stakeholders, including the teachers, faculty and leadership team of the school. They can help reassure you if you have any worries or concerns and can help with information you may not have. Also, children respond positively if they see that their family are communicating with their parents and consistency in approach to learning and expectations is established.

  • Participate in Parent Association activities or liaise with your Class Rep on events throughout the year and opportunities to participate in school life.

  • Encourage children to read at home or listen to you read stories. Research shows that children who are read to from an early age become enthusiastic, motivated independent readers when they grow older. Language rich literature also supports children’s development of vocabulary and extends their understanding of the spoken word.

  • Schedule time for homework, if appropriate, and create an environment that is conducive to supporting concentration so turn off the TV and have a workspace which has few distractions.

Strong family-community-school relationships during periods of transition are important for children’s success in moving to the next stage of their learning journey. They are also of great consequence for maintaining and promoting families’ continuous engagement, which is linked to improved student outcomes. When children enjoy strong links between their teachers, families and the wider school community, they develop an identity as a BISB student with a clearunderstanding of their position in the world as Global Citizens and the role they will play in shaping and determining their own futures. At British International School of Boston ( BISB), our vision is for all our community to support each other and the children through a positive, engaging transition into school and provide many opportunities for information sharing and partnership. Our first parent teacher event is Back to School Night on Tuesday, September 12, and we welcome everyone in the BISB community to come and meet the team, learn about the upcoming academic year and enjoy our new learning environments.