More on transitions – “He really struggled to settle in”

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 “With the spotlight being on literacy this month, we realise that for many children, and their caregivers, this can be an extremely difficult time especially when literacy is a struggle and challenge.  We, therefore, continue to share some of our past articles as a means of giving guidance and advice when it comes to supporting children who, because of their barriers to learning, struggle with reading and writing.  This week’s article was written by retired teacher and IESA facilitator, Leatitia Brummer.”

In our June (2013) newsletter, we discussed the fears and adventures of ‘crying Robyn’, and others who struggled with the transition to big school. However, many big boys and girls cannot cry but find the transition from Foundation phase to Intermediate and Senior phases equally difficult and even more so the transition to High School.  How can teachers and parents support these transitions? How can we assist the children to overcome the transition barriers?

Let us look at Trevor’s transition to Intermediate phase.  He did fairly well in Foundation Phase. His literacy skills developed above average but he tended to be a slow reader and writer. His teacher  Sheila -always made sure that he had enough time to finish his tasks because he became nervous and confused if pushed to finish. His teacher was worried that he might find the faster pace difficult in Grade 4 but she felt that she could not bother the Grade 4 teacher with all her concerns. Trevor really struggled in the new class and developed tummy or headaches in the morning before school. On his better days, he went to school courageously but often came home dejected and with lots of work to complete.  Trevor’s parents contacted Sheila. They discussed the situation and  Sheila realised that she had made a serious mistake by not alerting the Intermediate Phase teacher.  She undertook to do this but also opened up the discussion on how one could prepare children and their families for smoother transmissions. From this discussion, a number of suggestions came that might be worth following up:.

  • Grade 4 or Grade 7 teacher’s can use a standardised form to alert the new Grade or Homeroom teacher about specific challenges, e.g. time management, reading or writing barriers, peer rejection,   If possible arrange a meeting with the new teacher and share successful strategies to address the barriers.
  • Alert senior teachers If there are conditions at home that need to be taken into consideration, e.g. poverty, strife, alcohol or drug abuse.
  • New teachers must make sure that they have access to the child’s learner profile and other important documents. Check for health conditions, e.g. frequent ear problems which might have caused hearing deficiencies. Check for intervention reports.
  • Parents and or teachers must make time to chat to learners about the new phase or school, academic insecurity, social adjustment challenges, fears for bullying etc. 
  • Use a questionnaire that might help him to verbalise positive and negative feelings about the transition, e.g. IAM NERVOUS ABOUT…….; SOME THINGS I WILL MISS……; I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO………:.
  • 4 and Grade 8 teachers can play a significant role once they know and understand the learner better. Sometimes it helps to observe the child’s social activities and to support him to make new friends. Joining in extra-curricular activities might help him to meet different friends and to feel more at home.
  • Consider counselling if you suspect that the learner is really concerned about the transition or not coping well and or struggle to adjust for a long period.

Please read  “How do you prepare a child for a new environment” in this edition. (Click here)

Support learners in writing up their own profiles to draw their attention to and develop their confidence in expressing themselves.

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