Our transition to school programme is highly valued within our learning community. Each day at our childcare centre, the children are encouraged to participate in numeracy and literacy skills and to work collectively to grow their knowledge and skills at what we call ‘the extension table’. Our Childcare Teachers design activities that include research and inquiry, scissor skills, groups skills, negotiation, leadership and technology. The interactive whiteboard and ipad can be used to explore new knowledge and inspire topics of interest. Children especially love to illustrate and write their own stories developing their independence and confidence in writing. All children are encouraged to participate even if they are not yet close to school age with teachers scaffolding their skills. Teachers will dot the letters for children to write over or to make it appropriate for their skill level. This helps all children to feel empowered that they can meet these goals and achieve success in numeracy and literacy. Children who are four years old or children who can already naming their letters participate in early reading books. They have their own book-bag where they take a reading book home each day. These are skills that mirror those in the new entrant classroom and the children who transition to school already feel confident in these skills.
Children who are transitioning to school at our Childcare Centre are also supported through mat-times books and discussions amongst children who are going to the same school. Parents are also encouraged to do play dates with children who will be in their class but may not attend the same day at Horizons. This way they will have one established relationship before starting and a support system. Parents will similarly have an established support person, whose child is also transitioning. The learning activities and the extension activities which are integral to the curriculum help each child to feel empowered by their abilities to problem solve, act responsibly in group contributions and contribute to their learning environment. Most children transition to school with a sound knowledge of numeracy, literacy, scissor skills, how to write their name, beginning reading skills, some sight word recognition, and are beginning to sound out words that they want to write independently using their phonetic knowledge.
Many routines at Horizons Childcare Centre will remain the same when they are at school for example understanding healthy food options for morning tea and lunch, to drink lots of water, to put clothes and book-bags in their bag, and that there is distinctive outside and inside times scheduled into the day.
Horizons Preschool has a close relationships with the local schools and this is assisted by having several new entrant teachers utilising the preschool for their own children. Over the years we have strengthened these ties and also visit Arahoe Primary school to join in with their Jump-jam activities and events we are invited to. We also invite the Kapa Haka group to preschool, and use the Arahoe school field on the holidays to play games and sports. Each year the preschool’s end of year party is held at Arahoe Primary so many children are familiar with the environment before attending. Horizons Preschool invites the local early childhood centres and new entrant teachers from within several local schools to attend all professional development which we hold at our Horizons Childcare Centre. Recently we held a joint blessing of our whare iti with the new classrooms at Arahoe Primary and we had families new and old who attended this ceremony with our local kaumatua.