At this time of year, when our academic school year comes to a close, it is an opportune time for us as educators to reflect on how we can collaborate with families to prepare their students for continued learning, not only over the summer months, but also as they move from one setting to another.
This is especially appropriate for those key transitional times: Kindergarten to first grade, fifth grade to middle school or junior high school, eighth grade to high school or 12th to college or a career. It is important for us to be intentional with what we can do to assist families in preparing students in transitioning to their next level of education. Here are a few strategies we can use to support students as they move from one level to another.
Some schools hold promotional/graduation ceremonies or assemblies for students who have successfully completed various grades. Families and friends are invited to attend these events and recognize students for their academic achievements. They may be presented with a certificate or an award trophy that can be photographed and promoted on social media.
There may be a guest speaker who provides an inspirational message about all the wonderful new learning adventures that they will embark on as they move ahead in their educational journey. Teachers may also take advantage of this opportunity to highlight the challenges that everyone addressed and overcame. This is especially important because students need to know that failure is not the end, that it can serve as a springboard to innovation and creativity.
To reach success at the next level of their journey, it may be beneficial for the students to reflect on their educational values. This will help them have a more meaningful and relevant educational experience. To empower students, teachers can have them write letters of advice to the incoming class. Teachers can invite their students to write a letter to their future selves or have individual conferences with their students where they guide the conversation by asking questions such as:
- What are you looking forward to the most in “x” grade?
- What will you need in order to be successful?
- Who will help you the most in making sure that you are successful?
Students may be anxious about moving to the next level in their educational career. There may be some unknowns, such as:
- What will my new learning environment look like?
- How will I interact and engage with my peers?
- Where will I eat lunch?
- Do I have to take a shower in the locker room after physical education class?
To allay those concerns, some teachers invite their former students to serve as guest speakers to share stories on how they managed to deal with the various aspects of the transition. If possible, teachers also invite the future school’s administrator to visit the students sometime during the school year. Another resource is the school’s guidance counselor, who can provide additional details and information for students and their families.
The idea of change may be uncomfortable. Keep in mind that preparation is key. Providing students with the skills and support for what lies ahead will help them manage the various aspects of change.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.