Welcome to Transition and Early Learning

By creating this page, I want to share my experiences of working with K-2 teachers  in the area of early learning. I also want to highlight the great things that are occurring in the schools that I regularly visit. Best of all, it creates a space for us, as educators, to collaborate and learn together.
My Early Learning wiki with several schools adding a page about what they are doing in early learning.
My blog with an early learning page

What is Transition?

Australian academics Dockett and Perry have researched what makes Transition work well. In their paper "The Roles of schools and communities in children's transitions" they identify the following factors as indicators of effective transition programs.

1. a focus on relationships
2. importance of strengths-based perspective (what can the child do rather than what can't  they do)
3. importance of appropriate funding and resourcing
4. effective planning and evaluating of transition
5. responsiveness to the local context - child and family

Who is involved?

  • School personnel
  • Family members
  • Prior to school services
  • Health and community support services

Why have a Transition program?

It is a process designed to give the child a smooth transition to school and set sound foundations for learning.

“The educational and personal experiences students bring to schools constitute the foundation for all their future learning; schools should therefore attempt to amplify rather than replace these experiences.”

Jim Cummins

The Transition which often extends into Term 1 aims to:

  • Recognise, value and support cultural and linguistic diverse learning needs
  • Acknowledge and extend upon the rich learning experiences that children bring to school
  • Utilise play (investigating, hypothesising, exploring) as part of learning across the KLAs
  • Validate existing L1 language and support acquisition of English language learning
  • Equip children with skills to learn e.g. to negotiate, to co-operate, to take risks with their learning
  • Provide developmentally appropriate learning experiences
  • Build self esteem and the notion that the children are capable as learners
  • Develop personal, social skills in a co-operative learning environment
  • Provide experiences that meet existing curriculum outcomes
Early Learning
Reggio Approach


Principles of Early Learning

  • All children are capable learners.

  • Learning in the early years is the basis for future success in learning.
  • Children will learn in different ways and at different rates.
  • Active engagement in a range of experiences based on their needs and backgrounds, promotes meaningful learning for children.
  • Children construct knowledge based on their own experiences.
  • The starting point for learning should be on what the children already know.
  • Children learn through play.

  • Children learn through teacher-initiated as well as child initiated experiences.
  • Children learn through social interaction with adults and peers.
  • Children’s learning is on a continuum as they move through different stages of development
  • Children learn most effectively where there is a meaningful relationship between families and school.
  • Children’s interests and “need to know” motivates their learning.

  • Learning environments need to be culturally relevant.
  • Curriculum for young children should focus on the development of the whole child.
  • Curriculum should address skills, knowledge, dispositions and feelings.

Benefits to student's learning: what the teachers say!

"The children are much more settled than in previous years - no tears!"

"It's incredible what I have found out about each student! The classroom setup has allowed me to spend more time interacting and talking with the students than a more traditional classroom."

"They have been able to achieve more in terms of the syllabus outcomes because the learning has been planned around their needs, is differentiated and crosses over many KLAs."

"They are deeply engaged in their learning because they are able to choose and negotiate which learning tasks they actively participate in. I can see how self-directed they have become in their learning."

"The development of the student's language is remarkable. The nature of this active, small group learning has allowed them to feel safe in using their first language. I have also noticed the power of peer-teaching in developing their English."

Latest Canadian Research on being Ready to learn

What factors do you think are important for students in being ready to learn once they start Kindergarten? According to recent research from Canada, it is
  • verbal ability
  • positive attitude towards learning
  • social and emotional development.
Children who begin school demonstrating these characteristics will experience greater success in learning not just in Kinder, but beyond. As teachers we may need to rethink how we can best support students as they begin their school life.


1. Welcome to Transition and Early Learning page

2. The Early Learner page

3. Creating the Learning Environment page

3. Play as Pedagogy page

4. The Early Years curriculum play

5. Early Learning in Action! page


Start Planning Transition  NOW!

Transition to kindergarten involves a careful planning process and consideration of an array of transition practices appropriate to the needs of the families, school, and community.

  • Form a collaborative Transition team
  • Choose a Transition co-ordinator to lead the team
  • Reflect and evaluate previous transition program
  • Create a timeline or action plan for when certain activities will occur. Be clear about who has responsibility for these activities.
  • Do a stocktake of resources including materials and equipment.
  • Determine the availability of teachers, specialists, aides and parents for Transition
  • Organise parent and staff information sessions
  • Collaboratively plan a balance of active and passive learning tasks for the start of the transition progr
  • Regularly meet as a team to review, plan and evaluate the program

“Transition activities encompass a much wider time span, starting well before school…. and continuing well after.”

Policy Brief No.11 2008 "Rethinking the Transition to school: Linking schools and early years services." (attached below)

Useful Teacher References:

  • Informing Transitions in the Early Years: Research, Policy and Practice (2007) edited by Aline-Wendy Dunlop and Hilary Fabian
  • Starting School: a Handbook for Early Childhood Educator (2006) by Sue Dockett and Bob Perry

How do I get started?

To find out how to plan and prepare for a transition program read the attached file below "Transition in Schools". It is based on the experiences of various schools I have worked with in implementing a Transition

Strategies for effective school transitions

Australian academic Kay Margets outlines some of the challenges children and families face when starting school such as making new friends and adjusting to a new learning environment. She also outlines some essential strategies that will ease the stress caused by these challenges:
  • developmentally appropriate curriculum;
  • ongoing communication between school, preschool staff and families;
  • preparing children for transition and importantly,
  • involving parents.
This last point is perhaps our biggest challenge in schools!

Re-Thinking School Readiness

In other words, what can schools do to get ready for the student? A key factor is establishing effective relationships between the student, family and the school. In addition, the importance of creating a learning environment that builds on from children's experiences in the home and pre-school must not be overlooked. Read the attached pdf file "School Readiness."

Differences between prior to school settings and kinder which can be a challenge for students

·      Change in physical environment of classroom and buildings

·         Change in teaching strategies and curriculum

·         Change in number of children per teacher

·         Change in gender and role of staff

·         Change in peer group

·         Change in relationships between children and adults    

Giving ALL CHILDREN a chance to succeed!

UK Professor Iram Siraj-Blatchford’s addressed an early childhood seminar in May organised by the Lady Gowrie Childcare Centre in Erskinville. She spoke passionately about her longitudinal research concerning what makes pre-school education effective. The research team tracked pre-school students over 10 years across 900 primary schools and secondary schools.

Iram’s key points were:

  • the home learning environment can have a significant impact on a child’s future learning success
  • reading to children, playing with letters and numbers, singing songs and nursery rhymes, painting and drawing, regular visits to libraries and regularly playing with friends have a significant impact on a child’s development
  • competency in the cognitive and the social domains are necessary for children to succeed in learning (so why our fixation with literacy and numeracy as priority assessment?)

  • Children who experienced effective pre-school education were likely to have greater independence, self-regulation and concentration in the primary years
  • Effective pedagogy is not only teaching but also provision of “instructive learning environments and routines”
  • Children as teachers of pedagogy was a point she repeatedly emphasised
  • Greatest predictor of reading success? Vocabulary, in particular, amount of low density or low frequency words. The greater low frequency word/vocabulary, the greater success at reading. This is pertinent for our ESL children - see Jim Cummins.
To read more, go to my blog - Rampantred's blog!

Also read Iram's ideas for Shared Sustained Thinking in the early years. Great suggestions for teachers!

Helen West,
Jun 8, 2008, 10:17 PM
Helen West,
Jul 16, 2008, 6:13 PM
Helen West,
Jun 8, 2008, 10:10 PM