Entering the Intermediate Phase from grade three is a milestone in any child’s school career. It signifies a big step towards independence. Whilst considered an exciting time of personal development, it can also be a period of uncertainty and even fear. The stresses created by this transition can be minimized when the new environment is responsive to their new recruits.
Change can bring the expectancy of new beginnings, the keenness of meeting new people and making new friends and the prospect of learning new things. There could also be an element of trepidation of the unfamiliar which might cause misunderstanding and anxiety. It is important that as parents and teachers we help children build flexibility to handle change but also give the necessary support to help children negotiate change.
Parents and teachers share a role in making children feel safe and secure as they move to new educational settings. Schools very often organise an Orientation Day for grade 3’s as well as an evening when parents too, get to meet their teacher for the new year. This gives both child and parents the opportunity to become familiar with the new environment and get a feel for the school.
Building a relationship is vital. The focus is always to make parents our partners. Schools want to create a healthy, productive relationship with parents. By doing so we can engage children and help them to learn better – after all parents are our education partners. The big plea is to get parents to stay involved. Be assured that every effort will be made to understand parental perspectives and anxieties. A word of caution though, parents who persistently fall on the side of intervening for their child as opposed to supporting the child’s attempts to problem solve, interfere with the most important task of childhood and adolescence- the development of self.
Communication of course is vital. Schools are committed to providing a caring, safe and stimulating environment for children. It is imperative then that parents communicate any difficulties to the school so that we can act accordingly. It is most helpful if staff have a school email address so that right at the start of the year, parents can share any concerns that might not be appropriate to write in the homework note book. Building a relationship is necessary for children to flourish.
As parents we are naturally over protective and sometimes forget what an enormous sense of pride and achievement children feel when they face a new challenge and are able to conquer it successfully. Grade 4 Staff are particularly conscious of the transition into the Intermediate Phase and will make it challenging rather than an over whelming and daunting experience and believe in balancing the child’s needs to still be nurtured and feel secure whilst encouraging greater independence.
In conclusion, the acid test for any parent is the fact that you drop off happy, smiling children in the morning and fetch equally happy, smiling, exhausted children in the afternoon.
PRINCIPAL GLENASHLEY PREPARATORY SCHOOL