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MODULE 2: How to engage children & families in developing transitional practices?

Warm and inclusive transitional practices are in the first place practices that are developed from the needs of children and families in a specific context. How do children and families experience the transition period from home to ECEC, from childcare to preschool or from ECEC to primary school. What can we as professionals learn from their diverse experiences, emotions, and thoughts to make the transition more smooth. This is not an easy endeavour as from an institutional perspective families often found themselves in a silenced, subordinate position. Observing children’s — often perceived by professionals as — ‘anarchistic’ behaviour in the starting school period and talking to children can give you so much input on how to organise more pedagogical continuity for them.

When the voices of children and families are the starting point in developing transitional practices, staff will receive positive and critical feedback from children and families. This in return can give them a boost in continuing their efforts to organise the transition periods differently than before.

Below you will find materials that can help you support teams in gaining more insight on the experiences and voices of children and parents in transition.

Democratic starting point

Exploring the view of children, parents and professionals during the transition from preschool to primary school: tools used in the START project (Italian case study)

Transforming abrupt transitions in more warm and inclusive transitions demands a democratic approach. Find out in part 2 of this document how Italian trainers made use of children’s drawings, interviews with children and questionnaires of parents to create a democratic atmosphere between children, families and staff. This is the basis to ultimately  co-construct transitional practices.  

Cover photo from START: Case study Italy
exploring the view of children
Cover photo from START: Case study Italy

What to ask children

Guidelines for conducting focus groups with kindergarten children

Article 12 of The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) states that children have the right to have their opinions taken into account and their views respected in decision-making that affects them.  That is why it is important to include children's voices in developing transitional practices from ECEC to primary school. Consult the guidelines what kind of questions you can ask to children in transitioning  to primary school. 

Cover photo from START: Case study Slovenia
guidelines
Cover photo from START: Case study Slovenia

Observing younger children

Observing and reflecting together

Capturing the voices and experiences of younger children for example in the transition between childcare and preschool, is not just a matter of interviewing them. Observations is a good method. Check out how you can support staff to start observing more as a separate activity but also in their daily work to have sufficient insight on how children experience the transition.  

© VBJK – Caroline Boudry
Observing and reflecting together
© VBJK – Caroline Boudry

Collecting voices from parents

Warm, welcome and reciprocal

How to find out what parents are thinking, where their doubts and questions, concerns and thresholds lie in transitions? What they are happy about, and what raises their eyebrows or make their hearts pound? The answer is deceptively simple: ask them. In this chapter of a Belgian book — Warm, Welcome and Reciprocal — we focus on how to question parents, and to what a thousand blooming flowers this can lead to – if you do it in a thoughtful approach. Examples come from Belgian preschools.

Warm, welcome and reciprocal
Focus groups with parents on transitions

Organising group conversations or focus groups with mothers and fathers are powerful means to create a dialogue, connect parents and gain more insight on their perspectives. But how do you organise a focus group and what can you ask to parents? Find out in these straight forward guidelines.

© VBJK – Caroline Boudry
Focus groups with parents on transitions
© VBJK – Caroline Boudry

Using space as start of conversation

Wonder and Beauty – Connecting ECEC spaces and educare

It is not so easy to start a dialogue on care and educational matters in transition periods. How can you invite mothers and fathers to share their thoughts in an approachable way. Starting from how people use and understand space, can be a great way to start a dialogue. So parents do not feel pushed  to talk about the attitude or skills of the staff. Check out the four methods in the first approach of this document, developed as part of the Erasmus+ Educas project – connecting ECEC spaces and educare.

Using space as start of conversation: Wonder and Beauty