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Moving from Preschool to Primary School: Identities and Connections

By: ARLENE FORSTER

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Were you out and about at the weekend enjoying the St Patrick’s Day festivities? The special day brought crowds to villages, towns and cities across the country as ornate and creative floats passed by carrying groups of excited children (and adults!). While green, white and orange featured prominently marking Ireland’s national celebration, the day also brought a rich tapestry of colours, costumes and food reflecting a coming together of different cultures and identities. This blending of cultures and identities is also a key feature of daily routines and activities in early childhood settings as practitioners provide relevant, engaging and fun experiences for all children. Likewise, it’s a feature of children’s experience as they move from preschool to primary school. 

A coming together of cultures and identities was also a theme at a recent NCCA event on February 26 in Dublin Castle. The NCCA invited lecturers from Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programmes, from Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes, and from Level 5 and 6 courses to meet for a professional learning day on the newly published reporting templates, Mo Scéal: Moving from Preschool to Primary School and their companion materials. Just like many early childhood practitioners and primary school teachers, lecturers working in ECCE and ITE programmes rarely have opportunities to meet. Dublin Castle is probably one of the most important buildings in Irish history making it an apt setting for our professional learning event. The day brought its own little bit of history providing an opportunity for two groups of professionals with different qualifications, different practice experiences, different curriculum traditions and coming from different educational institutions to meet, to talk and to learn from each other. The day was packed with opportunities to network, to share experiences and to explore possibilities for collaborating across programmes and institutions in order to better support aspiring practitioners and teachers in their work with children and families making the transition from preschool to primary school. Energy, excitement and high levels of interaction among delegates led to new connections and, perhaps in time, new collaborations being initiated.  

First 5, A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families 2019-2028 identifies ‘positive transitions to primary school’ as a key part of its vision for early childhood. Thinking back to your own studies for your work as a practitioner, did you have opportunities to explore the preschool to primary school transition? Perhaps you had the experience of a work placement in a primary school as well as early childhood settings. Or perhaps, as a practitioner, you’ve been in the important role of supporting students completing placements in your setting and have been able to share with them how you help young children make the transition to primary school. Maybe you and your setting link with an institution providing an ECCE degree and you are able to bring your experiences of transition to the course design. And perhaps you work closely with local primary schools to help children experience a positive transition.

 

Keep an eye on the Scéalta blog for another post from the NCCA in the coming weeks on supporting practitioners as they work with children and families moving from preschool to primary school.

 

Bio:

Arlene Forster, Deputy Chief Executive, NCCA

Arlene is Deputy Chief Executive in the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). The NCCA advises the Minister for Education and Skills on curriculum and assessment in early childhood education, primary and post-primary schools.

Arlene began her career teaching in the early years and primary in Northern Ireland and then in the Republic of Ireland. In her role as a director in NCCA, she led the development of Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework and oversaw the development of the online Aistear Síolta Practice Guide. She has also worked in the areas of assessment and reporting, primary curriculum review, language and mathematics. She was appointed Deputy CEO in 2016 and has responsibility for leading the Council’s work in early childhood and primary education.  

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