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Mel Gravely

Eight Ways to Help Children Transition into Head Start

head start transitionEntering Head Start is a big step for any child. Parents and teachers can help children adjust by anticipating their needs and preparing them for their new Head Start environment. Ideally transition efforts such as visiting the program should start several months prior to the beginning of the program year.

The goal is to familiarize the child with the teacher, classroom, and program. It also helps to provide the teacher opportunities to “get to know” the child and plan more effectively before he/she becomes a member of the class; and provide parents with opportunities to become acquainted with the new teacher

Here are some suggestions for successful transition planning for children entering Head Start:

1. Set up an initial meeting with the teacher. Although this can take place at school, home visits give the child the chance to meet the new teacher in their own environment, which can reduce anxiety later and strengthen the sense of home-school connection, and allow the teacher the opportunity to get a firsthand sense of the child’s home environment.

2. Parents should share any concerns or special considerations regarding their child, such certain fears, level of toilet training, food allergies, etc.

3. Use pictures and/or stories to familiarize the child with their new classmates and teacher.

4. Be sure the child is in good physical and mental health. Schedule doctor and dental checkups early. Discuss with the pediatrician any concerns you have over your child’s emotional or psychological development. The doctor can help determine if concerns are normal, age appropriate issues or require further assessment.

5. If the child has been in a different program already, encourage communication between receiving and sending teachers, particularly if the child has special needs or particular issues coping in the classroom.

6. Don’t over-react if the first few days are a little rough. Young children in particular may experience separation anxiety or shyness initially but teachers should be trained to help them adjust. If a child cries at drop off, parents should remain calm and positive.

7. During the first few weeks of the program teachers and parents should share information about how they think the child is adjusting to Head Start.

8. If possible, parents should try to volunteer in the classroom at least periodically throughout the year. Doing so helps even children feel that their Head Start and family life are linked.

Being in the classroom is also a good way to develop a relationship with the child’s teacher and classmates.

We hope you will pass this information on to your parents.

May the seeds you plant today be the flowers that bloom tomorrow. Have a great year!

And as always we say at The Gravely Group, “Everything you can imagine is real.” We hope you will make your program an all-embracing success for the children and families you serve.


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