Working with families when children are transitioning to school

​​How your school and outside school hours care (OSHC) service can work with families, communities and children to ensure a positive transition to primary school.

Strategies for working with families

Families know their children better than anybody. Sharing relevant knowledge that they have about their child with early childhood services and schools can help the transition to school.

For this reason, the transition learning and development statement (TLDS) includes section three: 'the family' which invites families to:

  • outline their hopes, wishes or goals for their child at school
  • highlight things they would like to know about school
  • say how they think their child will settle into school, and what might help with settling
  • share their child’s current interests
  • explain how their child best engages and learns.

This information provides a great starting point for getting to know the family and initiating conversation and discussion with them before and as their child starts school.

Families who support their children during transition to school, and who have positive relationships with staff, are likely to continue a positive engagement with school.

Some strategies to effectively support families during transition include:

  • assisting families to have an up-to-date view of the support available within schools for their child’s learning and development
  • providing opportunities for families to meet and get to know each other informally, particularly for ‘first-time’ families
  • families with older children might be more comfortable about the transition process and can provide good support to families experiencing it for the first time.

Remember: when families and schools work together, children do better in school and engage in learning.

Involving children in their own transition

There are many ways to involve children in their transition to school experience. It is important to remember that listening in imaginative ways can support children as they adjust to change, such as the change of starting school.

The transition learning and development statement (TLDS) has a section specifically for the child to consider what they would like their new setting to know about themselves. This provides valuable information for the receiving school and OSHC service. This information can be used as:

  • a conversation starter
  • something to reflect on and consider as you get to know the child and their family.

Why it's important to involve children

Children are active participants and contribute diverse perspectives about transitions. Listening to and involving young children in transition planning is central to understanding them and supporting their learning. Valuing young children’s views has a positive effect on their self-confidence.

We need to involve and listen to children because:

  • it acknowledges their right to be listened to and for their views and experiences to be taken seriously
  • it can make a difference to our understanding of children’s priorities, interests and concerns and how they feel about themselves
  • listening is a vital part of establishing respectful relationships with children and central to the learning process
  • involving children in transition planning can influence teachers to think about how routines and activities can be improved.

The importance of working with families

Relationships are at the core of positive transition to school experiences. When families, schools and communities work together in positive and collaborative ways, a child’s capacity to achieve their learning potential is significantly enhanced. It also benefits the child's:

  • general health
  • wellbeing
  • positive outlook and sense of purpose in life.

This is a key practice principle in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) and the Practice principles for teaching in the early years.

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