Transition minus the tantrums

The transition from kindergarten to primary school can be much more complicated than expected and often anxiety-inducing for both parents and children.

For the student, it’s more than just a location change, meeting new friends and teachers and having a more extended study time – which is already a lot for them to take in.

Rather than the hybrid teaching approach used in kindergartens, primary schools emphasize subject-based learning.

The curriculum is more expansive and profound, involving abstract concepts that require students to pick up systematical thinking and focus for extended periods.

They are also required to read more, and written tests, dictation and other forms of formal assessments are also new to children.

On top of this, they will also need to get ready for school by themselves, such as preparing their textbooks and stationery – which primary school teachers will not make ready for them the way kindergarten teachers do.

For working parents, helping children transition psychologically is a big challenge that largely cannot be solved by the increasing number of bridging programs offered by primary and cram schools. As these programs are often only a few days long, they most likely serve as a boost for admissions rather than offer emotional support.

And the situation worsens when coupled with the pandemic – which has affected kindergarteners’ social and emotional development and independence – as students have had to attend classes online and spend more time at home due to social distancing measures.

“Parents need more support for their children’s adjustment to the new learning environment. This is especially important given the vast differences between kindergarten and primary schooling in learning modes and curricula,” said Chan Wai-ling, an assistant professor of the early childhood education department at the Education University of Hong Kong.

“The weakening of their children’s self-care abilities caused by a prolonged lack of interaction is another concern relayed by parents,” she said.

To facilitate the transition from kindergarten to primary school, EdUHK has launched a new online project that provides free resources and extensive information for both parents and children.

Jointly presented by the ECE department and the Educational Innovation Leadership Project under the Knowledge Transfer Sub-Office at EdUHK, the Kindergarten-Primary Bridging Project 360 comprises three parts: a video series for parents, animated videos for parents and children and online meetings with parents.

The project invites primary school principals, psychologists and education scholars to share their professional expertise and insights.

In the videos, professionals will explain the challenges children may face when moving up to primary school and give advice to parents.

There will be a total of 28 videos covering “learning,” “adaption” and “mind.”

Among the guest speakers are Eva Lau Yi-hung, associate head of the ECE, and Stephen Chiu Wing-kai from the social sciences department, who will discuss topics such as physical and mental health as well as self-control in preschool children.

In addition, a total of 25 animated videos covering themes such as children’s adaptation to new environments, social life and self-care are available for free on its collaborative partner EVIGarten’s online learning platform.

These videos cover peer relationships, getting along with people, as well as time and money management. Each video is supplemented with teaching guidelines and engaging exercises designed for parents and children to work on together.

As for the online meetings with parents, five experienced primary school principals will conduct in-depth discussions on different topics regarding moving up to primary school.

“Proceeding to primary schooling is a necessary stage for every student. We are concerned about the profound impact of the pandemic on kindergarten students, who have had less time in face-to-face classes,” said EdUHK president Stephen Cheung Yan-leung.

“This new project is just a start, and we are committed to promoting the sharing of online teaching resources for all,” he said.

“Along with teaching plans, these materials will be developed for different subjects to support online learning.”

Project materials:

(This article was published at The Standard on May 18, 2021: Education: Transition minus the tantrums )

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