Primary Transition: Support Parents for a Smooth September
It’s that time of year that makes parents start to feel anxious.
Whilst you are busy practising sports day, rehearsing a production, or just dreaming about the summer holidays, parents are starting to think about the new school year.
Transition doesn’t just mean a change of school or key stage. Simply moving year group can have a dramatic effect on a child. This can be magnified in children struggling with anxiety or confidence issues, or those with a special need.
So, what can you do to minimise parental worries when a child transitions to your class?
1: A Way to Contact You
Nothing is more frustrating for an anxious parent than waiting for days for a reply from a teacher. Especially if it’s getting close to the summer holidays and they need some help before September comes.
If parents at your school can only contact you through the main school office, you must rely on those messages getting to you quickly.
For some working parents, it is impossible to call within school hours.
Consider if you can offer another way for parents to get in touch with important queries:
· Does your school offer parents your email address to contact you directly? Lots of schools have a fixed policy of replying within 3 days to avoid parents expecting an instant response.
· Can parents see you at the end of the day outside your classroom?
· Is there a way parents can write a note via the school office?
· Could your school set up a special transition post box for notes from parents?
This could form part of a wider staff discussion on how to communicate effectively with parents.
2: A Written Plan of Transition Events
Parents don’t need a daily update of what you are doing to support their child’s transition. All they really want is a brief outline of key events to make sure they don’t forget anything.
Does your school send a letter to parents explaining when they will visit your class and get to meet you?
Keep your communications smooth and streamlined, avoiding unnecessary complications. Don’t assume your parents will know about how to get to your classroom or understand acronyms such as KS1 or EYFS.
For children who are highly anxious or with SEN, consider creating a transition booklet that contains photos of names and places along with routines and expectations.
3: A Smiling Welcoming Presence
People make snap judgments about you within seconds of first meeting. Think about how you can make this a positive first impression.
Some parents will confidently approach you to discuss the minute details of their child’s needs. Others will lack the confidence to visit you at all.
Seeing a smiling, welcoming face can make a big difference to an anxious parent. If you can help them to feel relaxed, it will help them feel reassured that the transition will be successful.
4: Actively Listen
It’s hard to talk to someone if you know they’re only half listening. Make sure you give a parent your full attention when they speak with you.
· Smile and make eye contact
· Point your feet towards them and subtly mirror them
· Repeat back key points they have made
· Consider making simple notes with them
· Avoid looking at the clock or the door
Above all else, remember what a parent has told you and apologise if you’ve forgotten something.
5: A Chance to Talk in September
Often parents will start the new school year with something they forgot to tell you when you met in the summer.
Does your school have a planned date for parents to meet with you in September to discuss how they are settling in?
Planning a meeting will often stop parents from dropping by after school every day. They can relax because they know there’ll be a chance to discuss their worries soon.
Your September meeting could be:
· An open evening meet and greet time
· A formal presentation and Q&A with all staff
· An informal classroom meeting covering common questions from parents
· A 1:1 parent consultation evening
6: Value What Parents Say
Most schools have excellent communication between teachers to discuss how a child has done in the previous year group. This is a fantastic way to find out social and academic progress.
But, don’t forget to offer parents a chance to talk to you too. They really do know their child best and can offer you a different perspective.
Parental engagement is an important way of improving pupil outcomes, so don’t waste the opportunity.
Transition is an exciting but anxious time for many children and their parents.
Ensuring good, timely, and positive communication with parents is a great way to remove potential problems before they surface in September.
Remember that transition doesn’t end in July and offer your parents a chance to meet with you early in the new school year.
How will you be supporting transition in your school this year?
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