Orienting our Children for Change

By Kerry Pratchett – Rewarewa Teacher, Preschool

Last year Jan told us that she had handed in her notice after many years of working at Wā Ora.  I think, whilst it was a shock, we also knew that she wouldn’t be with us forever.  Whilst transitions can be testing, I think that Jan prepared the community well for the changes ahead.  We did not have long to wait before we were told that Ava would be taking over in the role of Principal.  We even had a chance to sample the change when Jan went on a sabbatical and Ava came to ‘visit’ us for a term.

As we begin this new term, the preschool has had a number of tamariki move over to the primary school; at the same time, we have also welcomed new children into our preschool classes. This time of change can be quite stressful for a class or family, where we are getting used to new people, rules and expectations.  Orientation is a human tendency. Dr. Montessori spoke about how all humans need to orient themselves to their environment.  If we think of a child coming into a new environment they need to familiarise themselves with the new teachers, classmates and surroundings.  Once they have completed this process and feel safe, they then begin to explore and concentrate with certainty.

We are very lucky at Wā Ora to have our education go from 18 months to 18 years, as this means that students can see, ahead of time, where they will be moving to.  This hopefully makes those times of transition a little easier and since Montessori classes are grouped in three year bands, children don’t have to do it so very often!

Notwithstanding, these times of adjustment can still be challenging. To make life a little easier for everyone during these times, there are a number of ways support can be offered:

  • Communicate with your child about the changes that will happen and when they will occur.
  • Build a relationship between yourself and the new teacher – it is important that your child does not see your anxiety.
  • Punctuality – arriving on time allows for a relaxed start to your child’s day.
  • Allow time to chat – this does not need to be you directly questioning your child about school; often children will open up during those quiet 1:1 times.
  • Be prepared for your child to be upset, quiet and missing their old friends.
  • Allow time – parents, who have already been through a transition with a child, know that after a while all of the worries that you both had are just a distant memory.

As the school goes through a huge transition, I can see that both Jan and Ava have prepared us well.  I wish Jan all the very best in her new position in Bali and really look forward to getting to know Ava better.  Happy Transitioning!

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