Educators and Parents Gather To Learn Ways to Smooth School Transitions for Students

Teachers, pupil personnel and parents from the Welcoming Practices districts learned new strategies for supporting students when they change schools at a recent transition workshop led by the Military Child Education Coalition.

The two-day training also drew representatives from some surrounding districts in the San Diego area. “There’s always something to learn,” said Nicole Webb, a parent liaison in the Fallbrook schools. “I really want to get the tools to help all parents.”

Trainers Susan Heiligman and Sally Patterson covered the multiple ways that transition affects children and stressed that just because a student might sail through a school change in the elementary years doesn’t mean he or she will adjust as easily during adolescence.

“You can’t look at a child and say, ‘You did so great two years ago. What’s your problem now?'” said Patterson.

With military children, transition occurs not just when it’s time to change schools, but also when a parent leaves or returns from a deployment. These periods can have a significant affect on how the child is doing in school academically, socially and emotionally.

“The time of return is when the family is the most fragile,” Patterson said. “Just because a military child’s parent has returned doesn’t mean everything is great.”

The participants worked together to identify ways to better support transitioning students in their schools. Many also discussed the need to pay more attention to when students leave as well as when they arrive.

Some suggestions included:

  • Reminding families to let the school know if they are moving
  • Having students sign a t-shirt or a make a memory book for the student who is leaving
  • Giving a student a hall pass for the last day so he or she can visit classrooms to say goodbye to friends and teachers or get forms signed.

The participants left with fresh ideas and plans for strengthening the procedures in their schools related to transition.

View the March Newsletter for more.