The Transition to School for our Youngest Learners

The Transition to School for our Youngest Learners
Anne Henderson and Jennifer Wallace
 
Over the past 3 weeks the transition from home/childcare to school has been underway for our youngest learners. The KG1 children all began in September with a personalised plan to help them during this important time as they adjust to life at school.
 
It is perfectly natural that some children find it upsetting to be separated from their parents; at ICS we take the time needed to get to know each of our young students personally. This is extremely important as we foster trusting and nurturing relationships. We communicate progress to parents daily in person and via our online learning platform Seesaw, and build on successes.
 
For each child, these first few weeks at school consist of a balance of dedicated time in small groups or one-on-one with teachers or teaching assistants, and free play with classmates. It's very important that the classroom becomes a safe and familiar environment to them, and the best way to ensure this is to let them explore it at their own pace. They also get used to eating in the canteen at lunch time, and having an afternoon nap or quiet time in our dedicated nap room.
 
We share our Primary Years Programme (PYP) curriculum for the first term with parents, that shows the units of learning that the children will be studying, and how this applies to subject areas such as Maths, Language, Art and Sport, but also their personal, social and emotional skills. We also introduce concepts such as show and tell, so that the students start to develop their communication skills in both English and French. 
 
Whether they are a beginner in French, English or both languages, the science shows that at this age, children adapt according to the language spoken by the person with whom they’re interacting, and will quickly learn how to make the distinction between the two languages. This even applies to the situation where there is a third language spoken at home. At ICS Côte d'Azur we are very proud of our trilingual children who help make our school the vibrant, international and challenging learning hub that we feel makes us so special. 
 
When we have formed confident relationships with the child and their family, the process of adaptation comes to an end. By this time, the child knows their class, their teachers, and their new routine, and he or she confidently and calmly waves goodbye to their parents every morning.