Supporting Transition to Year 1 in 2020 with Tapestry
by Ben on August 10
When September comes, the start of a new and exciting academic year will be upon us all. No one knows how the year will go, but what we do know is that it will be a greater challenge than the normal September struggle!
Some children may not have been back to school since March, and so the leap from two thirds of Reception to the start of Year 1 will be massive if things are done ‘as normal’. Even for those children who have already returned, their experiences over the last few weeks will be very different from those in a pre-pandemic world. These differences in experience need to be addressed for the children to feel completely safe and able to learn again. The likelihood is, now they are in Year 1, they will be in a new classroom that looks ‘unusual’, with unfamiliar adults around them. So how can you plug this gap?
One of the things we saw at Tapestry once lockdown was announced, was the speed at which teachers and schools adapted to a new way of learning. Hours of teaching footage were uploaded, activities were offered, and the number of observations from relatives went up almost ten-fold from 400k to over 4 million! This increase in home-school links can be so valuable to help with the transition into Year 1. Looking at what the children have been doing, and what their relatives have shared with you, will provide the perfect ‘way in’ to choose starting points that are relevant and meaningful for the children in your new class.
Even if you don’t have this information, the first few days back in school will be about helping the children to feel safe and become familiar with their new surroundings, as well as building relationships with new adults. Some children will need to re-connect with their friendships. This stage should not be rushed. Greenspan (2002) talks about behaviour in children and how stressful situations can create changes in children’s approach to their learning. In their short school lives, these children have been through a lot of changes which will cause stress for some, and so giving them the time to find their feet again is vital if you want them to regain their confidence.
Before the start of the new year you could share a mini introduction video of each adult saying hello – especially if there will be adults who are new to children. You could also create a clip showing the classroom and learning environment. Sharing this via Tapestry will also give parents and carers an idea of what to expect in September, providing a talking point with their child and helping to reducing the worry and stress for families. This in turn helps the child feel more secure when they arrive meaning they are one step closer to being ready to learn.
Hopefully, you will have some time for classroom preparation before the children arrive back for the new school year. Julie Fisher mentioned in her recent webinar for EYA that classrooms should be set up to match the children’s developmental stage, not their age. The ideal situation would be to set up the classroom so that it is as similar to the one that the children had when they left Reception in March. This may not always be possible though, with resources and space, but if there is somewhere you can ‘hide’ tables for the start of term, this may help. Looking back through previous Reception observations might give you an idea of the activities the children enjoyed doing and how they were set up. As the year progresses, the needs of the children will change, and you may find that more children want to work at tables or in groups. When that time arrives, bring back more tables – staying with the thinking of setting up your room for their stage, not their age.
Once the children have settled and are ready to learn, it is time to look at your curriculum. The likelihood is more children than usual will not be at a Good Level of Development (GLD). This means you will have to look at where the children were at the beginning of lockdown to consider where you start from. Refer to themes they have covered already and reflect on how you can re-engage the children in their learning after such a long time away.
I am one of the people who would argue that it isn’t appropriate to ‘set homework’ at this stage. However, suggesting activities that can be done at home over the holidays can help to nurture children’s connection to school and engage them in some relevant experiences that can help them feel more secure more quickly once they are back. As long as it is clear that these are just suggestions! Using the Activities area on Tapestry would be a great way to share these with families. Getting replies from the relatives through observations, even if these aren’t looked at until the start of the new term, gives you a fantastic idea of where the child is developmentally which all helps when planning next steps for them.
Having as much information as possible before the child starts can only be a benefit to the child and to those who are planning an environment and curriculum for them. Once the child starts in Year 1, keeping any home – school link that was developed over lockdown will be a real benefit as the year progresses. Using Memos you can contact the relatives quickly without it clogging up the learning journals, with Documents you can share policies or forms with all the relatives, and in Reports, you can quickly share how the child is getting on, all whilst keeping everyone safe.
Here at Tapestry HQ, we all hope that the start of next year goes well and the children are able to enjoy an uninterrupted year ahead with you.
Greenspan (2002) The Secure Child: Helping Our Children Feel Safe And Confident In A Changing World