Relationships matter throughout transitions

Project author:

Project summary:

The project looked at the ways in which educators support children through transitions from nursery to primary 1 through building positive relationships where children, families and educator’s views inform findings.

Introduction

The purpose of this inquiry was to look at how we promote building positive relationships throughout transitions from nursery to primary 1 and increase my knowledge and understanding on the impact we have on the children and families and see what changes we can make to improve our transition experiences.

 

The factors for this project do not only need the input from the nursery staff but the teaching staff as well. Early level progresses into Primary 1 and we looked to see how much of the nursery spaces are replicated in Primary 1 through continuous provision to provide a space where quality learning and continuity of the Froebelian gifts and occupations are carried on from the nursery.

 

This enquiry links with our guidance document Realising the Ambition (2020) which states that “Steps should be taken by practitioners to minimise the adverse impact that new routines and systems can have particularly on children moving from home to ELC or when starting school.” Learning and teaching through the Froebelian lens should be continuous when moving onto Primary 1. Children should be encouraged to build on their previous skills learned in the nursery.

 

Policies which support this inquiry include, ‘Realising the Ambition’ (Scottish government, 2020) where section 8 focuses on transitions and what matters to the children.

 

UN Convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC)

 

The Froebelian principle – Relationships matter focus on the “every child with themselves, their parents, carers, family and wider community are valued”. (Tovey.

 

Jason Leitch – What Matters to Me? A resource which I used to support thinking around the what matters to me approach.  https://youtu.be/H_Z1ZvjlKDE?si=4mMzfNNCWikbdDtp

Context

As a setting staff participate in a home visit before the child starts the nursery, the parents are given a ‘What matters to me’ form to complete with their child before the visit. Staff then speak to the parents and child around the information which is given on the form. The child is given a story and teddy which they should return on the first day of nursery, From the ‘What matters to me’ form staff are able to provide provocations for the children’s interests which help settle the child on the first day. If required the keyworker will sit with the child and read through the story which was given at the home visit. This interaction gives the keyworker the opportunity to build a positive relationship with the child.

Over the next few weeks (depending on the child’s interest) they will be introduced to the Froebelian occupations and will experience the different talks of the rules and routines in the different areas, for example woodwork, sewing and weaving, clay or the fire pit. These principles are then embedded with the children to allow autonomy and freedom with guidance throughout their everyday learning. Through the early level teachers participating in the nursery pedagogue sessions nursery staff could explain the rules and routines nursery staff and children have put in place For safety reasons to enable the teachers to continue with continuity to allow a seamless transition with continuous provision resources such as block play and nature the children will understand the expectations from the teachers and to stop confusion and mixed messages towards the children.

From this enquiry and linking it to my question I want to establish how transition moving onto Primary 1 mirrors the transitions practitioners complete when the children start the nursery and what the Froebelian occupations look like in Primary 1. From prior knowledge transition from nursery to P1 are generally good and I know this from the way most children settle in, however knowing the work that happens in the nursery for transition I feel this could be mirrored more during transition into P1

For the research project I opted to measure my findings using qualitive data rather than numbers.

A cover letter was created and backed up with a PowerPoint informing my participants of the importance of positive relationships and I attached a Microsoft Teams questionnaire which was anonymous for my participants to complete.

My aim was to invite two of the infant teachers, ten parents in total (5 from Primary 1 and 5 from nursery) alongside 9 nursery practitioners to complete the questionnaire.

Through spending time with children seeking their views of what relationships matter to them. We drew a mind map of the children’s conversations and used the ipad to record voiceover which enabled me to revisit and listen carefully to each child’s conversations.

After we were finished chatting the children used the Ipad and took pictures of some of the things that mattered to them in the nursery.  One of the children told me that “my favourite thing to do is build with the blocks, I hope they have them when we go to school”

Ethics

To begin with I discussed the project with my Senior Management in the school and gained written consent from my Head Teacher to ensure my project could go ahead.

I then had to think about whose thoughts I wanted to gather and this is when I planned my methodology. I outlined the reason for my project from the beginning and ensured I obtained written consent from all my adult participants. It was made clear to all participants that feedback would remain anonymous throughout the project. All participants said they were happy for me to share their answers.

I believe building good relationships was key to getting parents to participate (especially some of the Primary 1 parents who no longer have children in the nursery).

In terms of protecting the children’s identity, the mind map answers were kept anonymous and the children’s faces were not recorded just their voices. This recording was then deleted off the Ipad.

Anonymous questionnaires were used to capture the participant’s knowledge around the work staff provide to build relationships with their child and our families.

“Today the most urgent need in education is that the school should be united with the life of home and family”. (Froebel, in Lilley, 1967:156).

(Froebel, in Lilley, 1967:156).

Findings

By deepening the knowledge and understanding of my participants around the importance of building positive relationships with my PowerPoint this project has enabled me as a practitioner to gain the views of the parents, practitioners and children. It was very interesting to read the different feedback on how we each define relationships and what they look like through transitions at Bankier Primary School and ELC.

From the questionnaires I was able to identify that parents considered the nursery staff to have built good relationships from the start when staff visited the families at their homes and put in place the child’s What Matters To Me plan. Nursery staff use the descriptor of the Froebel Trust poster to define the Froebelian principle of Relationships Matter. Parents stated that staff know the children and their individual needs well, however there was not more mentioned about how the children are supported by the teachers throughout transition after they have moved onto Primary 1 after the holidays or that the parent’s voice is being considered by the school. Realising the Ambition (2020) affirms that transition “is important not only for the children themselves, but also for others such as parents and family members who are regularly involved with them”.

One parent stated that their child “wasn’t prepared for the formality of the classroom situation and who once was a confident child went into their shell, the differences between nursery and P1 seems to be big, this could possibly be smoother”.

Another parent strongly agrees that “the Froebelian approach should be led through the school to support children to learn at their own pace and in a relaxed environment, instead of making them sit at a desk, allowing teachers to build stronger relationships with their children”. Tina Bruce (2021) states that “The Froebelian approach sees schools and early childhood settings as part of the community, together with parents and children. But settings and schools need to build the relationships with and between parents that bring a sense of belonging and feeling supported”.

According to the findings from the questionnaire “Staff encourage play is the way through a Froebelian lens, however understand that for this to be taken through the different stages of the occupations staffing doesn’t allow for this in the school”. Bruce explains that ‘Rich block play does not just occur. It develops when the adult acts as a powerful catalyst working hard to enable it.’ (Bruce in Gura 1992:26)

When the children in the nursery were asked what mattered to them the majority spoke about their friends, the teachers and their favourite activity, for example– playing outside, sewing and weaving, woodwork and building things with the blocks. One of the children said “I made the Gingerbread man’s house from the story, that was my favourite thing to make at the woodwork, I sometimes help my dad in the house now”. Another child told me “I miss the nursery sandpit and playing outside lots”.  When the children in Primary 1 were asked, they spoke a lot about their old friends and teachers in the nursery, the outdoor sandpit and making stories with Mrs Noble through the helicopter stories, “I remember being a knight in a castle”.

Conclusion

This project enabled me to capture a holistic view of the meaning behind what matters to our children from the point of a parent, practitioner and child throughout the transition periods.

From the views of the parents and children. I feel more work could be done between the nursery staff and the Primary 1 staff to ensure a more personalised transition for each child, where we seek their views e.g. What does school mean to me? The UNCRC (1989), Article 12 states that “Every child has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously”.

By using the photos the children took on the ipad and exploring the key spaces within the nursery that are important to the children the nursery practitioners and myself could work alongside the school to see how some of this could be replicated through an early level approach to support transition. In particular the areas the children displayed most interest in use this as a starting point to support these spaces being available in their new classroom environment when transitioning.

Staff could be invited along to Pedagogue sessions and CPD sessions to help develop their knowledge and understanding around the Froebelian Principles.

 

Throughout the project I found it hard to stay reflective and not force my opinion or bias especially when sitting with the school staff and talking over the PowerPoint. Through professional dialogue there was an understanding that there are things that are working well and things that could be improved on.

 

Going forward I aim to develop a poster to be shared with my participants and beyond showing the findings I have gathered and the added value which we have identified we wish to improve on.

 

The primary 1 and 2 teachers have already started to access the pedagogue sessions supporting continuous provision from nursery to primary 1.

Research implications

To be completed

Practitioner enquiry

To be completed

Leadership learning

To be completed

Author and role

To be completed

Comments from other network members

What did you appreciate about this research? What forward-looking questions did it raise for you?

  1. Kayleigh Fraser
    Kayleigh Fraser
    22 Mar 2024 at 2:03 pm

    Loved reading this project, many of us who are part of transitions to and from nursery can relate to this topic. Great job!


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  2. Tracy Brown
    Tracy Brown
    25 Mar 2024 at 7:53 am

    I really enjoyed reading your project, as my project was based around transitions too and I can relate to how important our relationships are within the transitions. Well done.


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  3. Kirsty Tomlin
    Kirsty Tomlin
    25 Mar 2024 at 3:57 pm

    Its great to read about a project that every child has to go through and to learn how we can guide practitioners in this process


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  4. Linsey Hood
    Linsey Hood
    25 Mar 2024 at 4:56 pm

    This was such an interesting read. As a teacher who has spent many years in Primary 1, I can’t stress how important it is to continue play pedagogy to ensure a smoother transition process. I think you have captured both children’s and parents voice well and it really reflects how essential it is, not only for a smoother transition, but for the continuation of learning that supports the whole of the child to grow into creative and motivated individuals.


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  5. Donna Green
    Donna Green
    27 Mar 2024 at 1:15 pm

    Well done Laura, it is clear to see a wealth of thought and consideration has gone into your Practitioner Inquiry.

    It is great that the participants voices are coming through particularly with the children expressing their views and the parents sharing about play.

    Great to see how you have used National guidance to strengthen your Froebelian project and the passion to ensure the principle of relationships matter through transitions from nursery to primary 1 should be at the core with children and knowledgeable, nurturing educators. 😊


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