Transition to school is a crucial and a very essential part of a child’s entry into the world of formal education. That makes parenting during transition from home to school one of the biggest responsibilities of parents and caregivers, especially because the child has always been in close contact, and in the physical proximity of his or her parents – up until the time of joining a school.
In this article:
- The four systems of a child’s ecosystem.
- The three phases of transition from home to school and parenting during each of those phases.
Children learn what they see. As a consequence, the adults around a child are the first teachers they learn from, by closely observing them. That’s why parents have a very significant influence on the cognitive, emotional and behavioural aspects of the child.
Parents and caregivers (grandparents, uncles, aunts, elder siblings) play an important role in the child’s transition from home to school. They need to therefore gain the right knowledge and guidance on the educational and developmental needs of children during their early childhood learning phase.
The child’s educators should work with parents in forming an apt transition plan, understanding the child’s needs and aligning it with the school’s requirements.
To understand parenting a child during transition from home to school, you need to first get introduced to the 4 systems of a child’s ecosystem.
The 4 Systems of a Child’s Ecosystem
According to the Ecological Theory by Urie Bronfenbrenner, a Russian born American Psychologist, a child ecosystem is divided into four different categories:
Microsystem is immediate environment where children (or individuals) are influenced by the setting of their surroundings, which includes family, school, peer group, community and childcare environment.
Mesosystem is the connection that is formed between the Microsystem and the Exosystem, i.e., a child’s home and school.
Exosystem is the larger and external part of the environmental settings which influence development indirectly, like the workplace of parent(s), local politics, social gatherings/events, mass media and industry.
Macrosystem is a combination of the larger context, including ideas, attitudes and ideologies of the culture and the sub-cultures children belong to and grow up in.
Later, Bronfrenbrenner added a fifth system, which is the Chronosystem.
Chronosystem is the patterning of events within the environment and the transitions over the course of life.
Transition in children occur in three stages. This shift or change occurs according to the age and the development of the children.
Parenting During Transition from Home to School
There are 3 phases of transition from home to school, viz.;
- Home to Day Care
- Day Care to Preschool
- Preschool to Formal School
Note: In certain countries/cultures like India (among others), most children may have only 2 transitions: Home to Preschool & Preschool to Formal School.
Parents have different roles to play in each of these stages, and the manner in which they play their role and support the child during the phases will determine how smoothly a child will transition.
Let’s now look at each of the three stages.
1. Home to Day Care
Home to day care is the first transition that children experience in their life, where they move from a known environment to an unknown one. In other words, they move from a very familiar space to an absolutely unfamiliar space.
The sudden change of space can be a very emotional experience for the child, as he or she will be separated from the caregiver or parent, even though briefly, for the very first time.
Parenting a child during transition from home to day care is a very important responsibility for both parents and caregivers alike. They therefore need to adapt to the needs of the children at this stage, and provide them with love, attention and care, so that the child can successfully deal with their anxiety and smoothly navigate through this sudden change.
Similarly, the day care (or early learning) centre should provide for an environment that not only facilitates the smooth transition, but also encourages manifestation of the various inherent talents and skills every child possesses.
In line with the same, prior to admitting their child in a day care centre, parents and caregivers should assess the environment on various aspects (among others), like:
- Is the environment safe and secure?
- Is it stimulating enough to kindle the curiosity? and
- Are there appropriate and adequate learning materials available for them to express their creative skills and interests?
Most of all, it is important that parents take the efforts to recreate at least some of the activities (if not all) which are conducted in school. This is so crucial, as this will help children to familiarise themselves with the new skills better and excel well in the classroom activities.
2. Day Care to Preschool
Day care to preschool is the second transition children go through. This transition is a relatively more important transition than day care, as it lays the foundation for the academic life of a child.
The very fact that the academic foundation gets laid in preschool is what makes parenting a child during transition from day care to preschool a very important phase.
The preschool setting will be a little different from the day care centre, especially in terms of the space/environment being better oriented towards stimulation of children’s curiosity and creativity, and materials that are used as props to develop various skills.
While the space in day care would have seating arrangements in the form of mats, cushions, etc., a preschool setting introduces children to seating arrangements comprising chairs and tables, among others.
The best thing about preschool is that individual attention is given for every child. Additionally, the classroom interactions will lay a lot of emphasis on teaching them with concepts that support with the developmental milestones that follow (right after joining preschool).
3. Preschool to Formal School
Formal schooling, or first grade, is typically more structured and academic oriented.
Compared to preschool, formal schooling differs in many ways. Though the environment or space will have almost a similar setting, it has a relatively low key setting in terms of visual stimulation and design.
Having said, children will continue to be encouraged as regards exploring their curiosity and manifesting their creativity. It is just that formal schooling will be teacher centric in nature, and the classrooms will lay a lot of emphasis on academics, as it closely follows a formal structured curriculum.
The first grade also emphasis children to carry out learning tasks individually, for prolonged periods of time. During this period, things can look demanding from a child’s perspective, though it isn’t necessarily so.
However, a little bit of hand-holding, support, care and active involvement from parents can greatly help children deal with the challenges, and grow with very little or no obstacles. That’s why parenting a child during transition from preschool to school is the most critical of the three transitions.
The Ecological Theory discusses about the same in detail, and highlights the influence of family, peers, school, communities, etc., who can together help children to successfully negotiate the demands the formal schooling.
It would be an understatement to say that transition from home to school can be a tectonic shift that every child has to go through in their life, as this a phase that largely defines how they would go on to grow and develop not only as teenagers and young adults, but also as individuals – across their life.
Since children are highly influenced by their parents and caregivers, parenting a child during transition from home to school becomes a high-impact responsibility. This is the right time, therefore, for parents to get introduced to Positive Parenting.
Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.