Little by little: our ECE to Year 1 transition programme

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Maryanne Harper, our ECE Coordinator, discusses our transition programme for children moving from K4 of ECE into Year 1. Mrs Harper has been at Yew Chung International School of Beijing for three years where she and her team established our ECE Learning Community. Her career in Early Childhood Education has spanned three continents and over 35 years.

As we approach the end of the academic year, preparations begin for our eldest children’s transition from Kindergarten to Primary School. Children face several changes as they move into the Primary School; the purpose of our transition programme is to introduce these changes gradually over a period of several months in the run-up to the new academic year.


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Our transition programme at YCIS Beijing is unique. Not only does it begin several months before the children move into Year 1, but it also continues throughout their first semester. During this period, we maintain constant dialogue between our ECE and Year 1 teachers and make adjustments to the curriculum where necessary. For example, we noticed that the children find the longer, more structured school day in Year 1 quite tiring when they first begin. For this reason, we collaboratively decided to remove homework for Year 1s during their first semester. This is all part of the transition programme – designed to meet the needs of the children and make them feel as comfortable and happy as possible during a time of significant change.

In the preceding months, we involve the children in as many Year 1 experiences as possible. It usually begins with simple orientation exercises. Last week, for example, we took the children to the Primary School playground for playtime. Next, we will be taking them to the canteen for lunch and they will join the Primary School for assembly. We then introduce lessons into their day – Literacy, Maths, Chinese and Violin. The children particularly enjoy the violin classes. It’s exciting for them to take up a new instrument and feel more grown-up!


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We also place real emphasis on building relationships between the children and their new teachers. The Year 1 teachers regularly visit the ECE during transition. They discuss the changes with the children, answer questions and help them feel excited about the move. We also arrange for our current Year 1s to visit ECE and answer the K4’s questions. It’s great for them to discuss what’s in store and also have some older role-models.

Parents can also contribute to the transition programme outside of school. I strongly encourage mums and dads to be positive about the change and show their excitement at home. This will be reflected in the children’s own feelings – and when children feel excited, they take readily to new tasks and challenges.


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The transition programme is fabulously successful and it gives me great pleasure to see our K4s fly the nest and thrive in their new environment. I’m confident that our K4s this year will take well to all the changes ahead and I wish them the best of luck for an exciting new chapter in Primary.

For current YCIS Beijing parents interested in learning more about Year 1, the curriculum and what to expect for their children, please join us for our information session on Wednesday 9th May, 08:30-09:30, in Hall H.

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