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Importance of successful transitions in schools

Discuss About The Building Inclusive Society Policy Practice?

Transitions in schools are considered as those transformations which students go through as they are promoted to different schools as different stages of the lives. These transitions are seen to play an important role in the moral and cognitive development of the students where they learn moral reasoning, decision making and participating in social activities with gradual development of academic knowledge and learning of soft skills (Yeo & Clarke, 2006). In the present generation, huge numbers of researchers are working on different aspects of successful transitions to schools and are providing valuable information about the different aspects. They are of the opinion that successful transitions have very positive impacts on the academic and social performance in the first year of the school and in the later years of schooling also. They are also of the opinion that children who undergo smooth transition can easily attain early success in schools and therefore tend to maintain a higher level of social competence as well as academic achievement (Crossnoe, Benner & David-Kean, 2016). Researchers have found that successful transitions has definite links to that of the readiness of schools and such successful transitions can only be achieved when the children can emotionally, intellectually, physically as well as psychologically able to settle in the primary school. However, researchers have now paid more importance to the relational nature of the concept of school readiness that involves the readiness of the schools to accept the children and the children’s readiness to visit the schools (Costales & Anderson, 2018). The National Education Goals Panel (NEGP) has successfully helped in developing a definition of school readiness that comprised of their important factors. The first one is the “readiness of schools” that involves the schools’ need to be ready to accept children from a wide variety of backgrounds, needs, cultures and abilities. The second component is readiness of the children (what knowledge the children have and what they can do). The third component is readiness of the family as well as support from the community. In Singapore, young children are seen to attend preschool from two to six years of age that is not mandatory until age seven. However, the trend to attend preschool is common in the nation where the current school programs provide half as well as full day childcare programs for the children (Ahtola et al., 2016). In the policy called the Nurturing early learners: A curriculum framework for kindergarten in Singapore, provided by Ministry of Education in 2012 ensures that certain key stage outcomes are to be ensured by the higher authorities for those children attending the school. These are that the children should know what is right or wrong and they should learn to share and take turn with others. They should be also able to relate with others, listen, and speak with understanding. Such children should be 6 to 7 years old when they are transitioned to primary 1 and to primary 2 when they are 11 to 12 years old (Jenkins et al., 2018). There are about 30 children in one class studying for 6 hours a day from Mondays to Fridays. The PERI (Primary Education Review and Implementation) report has been published in 2009, which states that it is important for children to grow up to be confident persons who can easily adapt to working in teams and are able to communicate their thoughts as well as their ideas effectively. Current trends show that the transitions practices in kindergarten 2 continues for the last six months before stepping in the primary one (Ball et al., 2017). The practices that are adopted by the preschools involve primary school orientation visits that are arranged for both children as well as parents at a time of around two to three months prior to the start of the primary schools entry. These practices also comprise of one hour briefing about the rules of the schools, their regulations, curriculums, routines as well as tours around the school premises. This policy has given parent an outlook about how education system plans to prepare the child and helping parents to know about the requirement to help them develop as intelligent children for the future (Walker et al., 2016). Kindergarten Curriculum Framework therefore provides a wide discussion to the parents.

Readiness of schools, children, families, and communities

Children who are stepping into primary schools after completing their years in the preschools need to be guided properly as they go through numerous unpredictable psychological changes during these transitions. Researchers have defined physical discontinuity as the break that students experience between the old arena of the preschools as well as the entry into the new as well as untreated ground. This can be energizing and inspiring for the children but on the other hand, it may also case fear of the unknown and extreme dislike growing from emotional turmoil of living a known place and visiting an unknown place for studying (Choy et al., 2016). Researchers are of the opinion that organization of time and space is indeed an important aspect of work and life both in primary schools as well as preschools. The arrangement done regarding to space, time organizing activities as well as physical environment are seen to significantly impact on the quality of life for both the children as well as the adults. The general atmosphere determines the organization of time and space where the educational works are placed in the educational institutions (Sigurroardotrir, 2018). Spatial organizations in preschools are quite different from that of the primary schools in terms of interiors designing of the physical learning environment. Feelings of insecurity as well as maladjustment are noted in cases of the children who go through this transition and these maladjustments mainly come from the differences between objects, interiors as well as exteriors that exist between preschool and primary schools. The children who are coming from the kindergarten schools are used to the layout as well as the organization of the building that by all means are suitable for children who are transitioning from preschools. These should take account not only the pedagogical as well as physiological characteristics of the children but also includes an entirely different aesthetic as well as health and hygiene criteria (Okane, 2016). Researchers are also of the opinion that the building of both the types of institutions has separate ways of attracting children in their own ways. For example, well structured environment in the kindergarten may include materials, accessories and toys for the work creates an atmosphere which is highly conducive to the overall growth and development of the children (Boyle & Grieshhaber, 2017). However, such children when attending primary classes may feel emotionally affected, as they might not be able to feel comfortable with the new surrounding that would not have material, toys and accessories found in the preschools. These might come as a shock to the children where children may develop emotional turmoil when trying to find the similar environment of preschools in the new primary school environment. The sizes of the buildings are also seen to vary and the external and internal atmosphere varies between both the schools. In case of primary schools, the compounds are larger and provide a professional outlook in comparison to more homely atmospheres of the preschools. The primary schools have large number of classrooms present in rows that have disciplined ways of movement on behalf of the teachers and the children. They also have multipurpose rooms as well (Maniates, 2016). However, such environments may not be well accustomed by the children of preschool and temporary visits during the transition periods to the primary schools do help the students to be accustomed or experienced with the procedures. Students may get lost or unsure of the new environments where they might not be also able to find out the rooms or may get lost in the building. This may make them anxious or create stress in them. Such issues should be taken in considerations by the higher authorities.

Policy framework for kindergarten in Singapore

Another form of discontinuity that needs to be described in this context is the special discontinuity. Social discontinuity shows the development of relational stress among children during their interaction with other stakeholders when they undergo transitions between school forms. While many children are successful in going through easy transitions, where they are made to take proper preparations to enter and create new social communities, most of them undergoes severe mental stress and anxiety on meeting new people and interacting with altogether new environment in new settings (Fisher, Frey & Hattie, 2016). Many researchers often define transitions from a social perspective where they state that the transitions are processes that have two-way directions. This mainly involves children entering in new social contexts while they are still separating from old contexts and relationships. One of the most negative aspects of social discontinuity is that it causes breakups between different children who are best of friends (Ng & Sun, 2015). Teachers have described this separation in words “every spring semesters in preschools are now accustomed with separations and breakups and mostly the beginning of the autumn terms is characterized by new community in the preschool classes.” Therefore, breaking up with the already close friends and attending new place with altogether new faces may result in shock to the students. Many students are seen to dislike visiting schools as they cannot interact or make friend with the new companions in the primary schools. Researchers have described those children, during these transitions, to get engaged into asymmetric interaction with different adults like teachers, parents and attendants and symmetric interactions with the peers (Yo et al., 2016). Changes are indeed seen to occur in the different quality of relationships between children as well as adult-child relationships. The primary school environment is more complex which has a growing number of children in comparison to the number of children in the kindergartens. Primary schools need children to have higher number of interactions with adults in comparison to those times in the preschools. Here children have less autonomy are expected to be disciplined in their behavior as well as movement. In these new areas of the primary schools, they need to develop interactions and relations with the new people and new faces whom they meet in the new environments like new teachers and new friends (Wilder & Lillvist, 2017). Their social circle gradually gets greater in the schools in primary schools as in comparison to preschools where they interact with same teachers and friends on a daily basis. Such aspects can come as a shock to them with which they cannot accommodate themselves easily. Therefore, proper steps need to be taken in order to address these difficulties (Salmi et al., 2017).


Another of the most important discontinuity is the philosophical discontinuity. Researchers have found out that there is an immense difference between the teaching pedagogies of that of the preschool and that of the primary schools. If the teaching styles of the two types of schools are noticed, a marked difference will be observed in both the teaching pedagogies that are needed for successful cognitive development of the students. Preschools are mainly seen to be providing significance on different types of play activities that help children develop particular aspects of their cognitive thinking power, their motor skills, their spontaneous movements and many others (Tan & Rao et al., 2017). These plays are called purposeful games as all these games not only make the children enjoy themselves but also help them to develop certain skills. The teaching pedagogies in preschools also influence children to develop self-help skills that makes them develop as individuals. The primary schools follow altogether a different teaching approach that remains mainly academic driven. In such schools, the teaching arenas mainly remains based on helping the children less on cognitive development and more on knowledge acquisition and for different examinations. These make the students develop academic stress because the places where they used to go for enjoyment (according to them) gets replaced by schools which provides more pressure to them on academic domains (Taub et al., 2017). Such changes in education may come to them as shock and therefore care should be taken that such issues no longer hamper the life of children in anyways.

Practices adopted by preschools for a smooth transition


The first issue that needs to be handled properly for effective transition from preschool to primary school is the physical discontinuity. It is seen that the students often face issues adjusting with the new environment of the primary schools, as they have not been exposed to such environment beforehand. Therefore, in order to prevent the students from suffering from shock due to environmental changes of their study institutions, there lies a great responsibility in both the preschool as well as primary schools teachers. During the last six months of training the children should be properly explained to the transition that they are going to take after completion of their preschool (Lim, 2018). Such discussion sessions with the children would involve the different physical changes that they should be expecting in the new environment where they will go. This will help the children to develop a scenario accordingly that will prevent them from feeling anxious and help them to be comfortable. When the students will have at least certain ideas about what they can expect in the new environment, such discontinuity will not hamper them as much as it would do if they are not taught or helped in developing their minds accordingly (Silver et al., 2016). The preschool teachers would interact and help the parents by guiding them with the ways by which they can prepare their children to suit themselves with the new environment gradually. Parents stay with their wards most of the time and when they will be helping the children, giving them proper ideas about what they can expect and how they can keep themselves safe from losing their ways in the buildings, children would be confident and would not develop anxiety. Moreover, only taking children to tours to such primary schools is not sufficient, as only visiting classes will not help them develop proper ideas. Rather children can be allowed to participate in 5 to 6 such sessions in primary schools to make them habituated with the entire setting (Chai et al., 2016). Therefore, proper tours with 5 to 6 class sessions and proper responsibility taken by preschool teachers and parents to help students develop an idea about what they would be expecting in primary schools would be helpful for them.

The second issues which the students face is the social discontinuity. They often have to develop new relationships with peers as well as teachers as the latter are new to them in the new environment. In the preschools, the numbers of students are very few and they get well accustomed to the limited number of students and teachers in the preschool. Therefore, when they come to primary schools, they have to interact with huge number of students and teachers that require proper social skills for them for effective relationship development. Therefore, it is very important for the children to develop proper social skills by which they do not feel left out or alone in the new environment (Nonis et al., 2016). With proper social skills, they will feel confident and will not get scared on meeting a large number of people or staring interaction with them. Proper social skills can be developed in the children that would ensure their overcoming social discontinuities. They would never fear from expressing themselves that will help in developing better environment for developing academic knowledge and free from stress and pressure. One of the strategies, which the preschool teachers can start for 6 years olds are the frame play where teachers and students can engage themselves in role-playing situations where roles are decided by the students and nurses and then a certain hypothetical situations is conducted out in the form of drama. Through the help of a story, the teachers and students can engage in structured conversations that are called literature dialogue. During all this dialogue sharing, the teachers as well as the children have philosophical dialogues that reflect their intentions as well as thoughts that are expressed in drawings and play activities. With such plays, they can develop skills that help them to communicate effectively, solve different problems they face and self help themselves without develop stress, fear and anxiety.

Psychological changes and maladjustments experienced by children during the transition


Another issue is the philosophical issue where the teaching pedagogy of the primary schools varies a lot from the preschools. Therefore, it becomes difficult for the student to get adapted to the new king of teaching ways that they did not follow for the seven years. The teachings of the preschools include development of skills through purposeful plays which do not follow a typical procedure as disciplined as the study procedure in the primary schools. Teachings in primary schools are academic based approach where importance is given on knowledge development rather than cognitive power development. Therefore, students should be made accustomed to this form of learning and therefore the last months of the preschool period should contain the teachers to initiate a teaching style that would help the students gradually get accustomed to the style that they would be experiencing in the primary schools. The teachers would gradually expose the students to different class scenarios that they would be going through in the primary schools (Goff & Dockett, 2015). These would not make them feel new to the environment of the new schools and therefore anxiety and depression from shocks will not take place among the children.

Another issue that should be also considered is that the students do not remain aware of what is expected from them in the new primary schools. They are not well accustomed to the following of disciplined mannerisms and behavior and they have a large amount of autonomy on the preschools. They are not pressurized in any ways and these results in development of altogether a different scenario of preschools in their minds. When such students reach the primary schools, they feel pressurized as discipline approaches make them feel restricted. Therefore, both preschools and parents should take active steps in development of different approaches that help them adapt to new situations in primary schools easily (Arneson, 2016). The teachers of the preschools should gradually incorporate concepts of subject learning like mathematics, science and literatures. The preschools can expose children to simple time, money, addition, subtraction concepts in mathematics, doing simple experiments that would enhance observation skills and thereby improve reading, writing, comprehending, spelling learning and others.

References:

Ahtola, A., Björn, P. M., Turunen, T., Poikonen, P. L., Kontoniemi, M., Lerkkanen, M. K., & Nurmi, J. E. (2016). The concordance between teachers’ and parents’ perceptions of school transition practices: A solid base for the future. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 60(2), 168-181.

Arneson, R. (2016). Preschool to School: Transition through the Eyes of Teachers.

Ball, D. (2017). Zi?an Güner Alpaslan† was a doctoral student in the Department of Elementary Education, Middle East Technical University, Turkey till she passed away in a tragic car accident in 2015. She was a brilliant young scholar. Her research focused on outdoor play, gender equity and early childhood mathematics and science education. Eva Änggård PhD is an Associate Professor at the Department of Child and Youth studies. The SAGE Handbook of Outdoor Play and Learning.

Boyle, T., & Grieshaber, S. (2017). Linking learning: developing cross-sector policies for transitions to school. In Life in Schools and Classrooms (pp. 369-384). Springer, Singapore.

Spatial organization in preschools and primary schools

Chai, C. S., So, H. J., Tsai, P. S., Rohman, E., & Aw, L. P. I. (2016). Building epistemic repertoire among primary 3 students for social studies. In Future learning in primary schools (pp. 109-128). Springer, Singapore.

Choy, M. Y., & Karuppiah, N. (2016). Preparing Kindergarten Two children for Primary One in Singapore: perceptions and practices of parents, kindergarten teachers and primary schoolteachers. Early Child Development and Care, 186(3), 453-465.

Costales, G. S., & Anderson, R. (2018). Preschool teachers' and parents' perspectives on primary school preparation in Singapore. New Zealand International Research in Early Childhood Education, 21(1), 88.

Crosnoe, R., Benner, A. D., & Davis-Kean, P. (2016). Preschool Enrollment, Classroom Instruction, Elementary School Context, and the Reading Achievement of Children from Low-Income Families. In Family Environments, School Resources, and Educational Outcomes (pp. 19-47). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Hattie, J. (2016). Visible learning for literacy, grades K-12: Implementing the practices that work best to accelerate student learning. Corwin Press.

Goff, W., & Dockett, S. (2015). Partnerships that support children’s mathematics during the transition to school: Perceptions, barriers and opportunities. In Mathematics and transition to school (pp. 171-184). Springer, Singapore.

Jenkins, J. M., Watts, T. W., Magnuson, K., Gershoff, E. T., Clements, D. H., Sarama, J., & Duncan, G. (2018). Do High Quality Kindergarten and First Grade Classrooms Mitigate Preschool Fadeout?. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, (just-accepted).

Lim, S. M. Y. (2018). Early Childhood Education and Development in Singapore. In International Handbook of Early Childhood Education (pp. 649-661). Springer, Dordrecht.

Maniates, H. (2016). Transitional kindergarten: an opportunity to explore the intersection between early childhood and kindergarten practice. Early Child Development and Care, 186(5), 750-763.

Ng, S. S. N., & Sun, J. (2015). Preschool mathematics learning and school transition in Hong Kong. In Mathematics and Transition to School (pp. 237-251). Springer, Singapore.

Nonis, K., Chong, W. H., Moore, D. W., Tang, H. N., & Koh, P. (2016). Pre-School Teacher's Attitudes towards Inclusion of Children with Developmental Needs in Kindergartens in Singapore. International Journal of Special Education, 31(3), n3.

O’Kane, M. (2016). Transition from preschool to primary school. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Salmi, S., & Kumpulainen, K. (2017). Children's experiencing of their transition from preschool to first grade: A visual narrative study. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction.

Sigurðardóttir, A. K. (2018). Student-Centred Classroom Environments in Upper Secondary School: Students’ Ideas About Good Spaces for Learning Versus Actual Arrangements. In Transforming Education (pp. 183-197). Springer, Singapore.

Silver, R. E., & Bokhorst-Heng, W. D. (2016). Overarching themes, bilingual dreams and multilingual landscapes: Quadrilingual education in Singapore. In Quadrilingual Education in Singapore (pp. 3-19). Springer, Singapore.

Tan, C. T., & Rao, N. (2017). How Do Children Learn? Beliefs and Practices Reported by Kindergarten Teachers in Singapore. Asia-Pacific Journal of Research in Early Childhood Education, 11(3).

Taub, D., Foster, M. H., Orlando, A. M., & Ryndak, D. L. (2017). Ethical Considerations for Inclusive Practices for Students with Extensive Support Needs. In Ethics, Equity, and Inclusive Education (pp. 119-144). Emerald Publishing Limited.

Walker, Z., & Musti-Rao, S. (2016). Inclusion in high-achieving Singapore: Challenges of building an inclusive society in policy and practice. Global Education Review, 3(3).

Wilder, J., & Lillvist, A. (2017). Collaboration in transitions from preschool: Young children with intellectual disabilities. In Pedagogies of Educational Transitions (pp. 59-74). Springer, Cham.

Yeo, L. S., & Clarke, C. (2006). Adjustment to the first year in school—A Singapore perspective. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 14(2), 55-68.

Yeo, L. S., Chong, W. H., Neihart, M. F., & Huan, V. S. (2016). Teachers’ experience with inclusive education in Singapore. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 36(sup1), 69-83.

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