Head Start Information—Transition Coordinators and Others
Transition From Head Start to School: A Team Approach
transition to kindergarten is an exciting time for children and their
parents. Head Start staff work together to make sure that parents and
children feel supported and have the information that they need to make
a successful transition to school. Therefore, transition in Head Start
is a team approach. Teachers, directors, family service workers, home
visitors, and many other staff members come together to create a smooth
transition for children and their families as children enter kindergarten.
Although many staff are involved in the transition process, each program
is required to identify an individual(s) to be responsible for overall
transition planning. Some programs have a staff person who serves as a
Transition Coordinator, while other programs may enlist an education manager
to serve in this role or divide the transition duties between several
management team members.
All transition planning should include specific details about efforts
and activities that have been planned and coordinated with local schools.
Transition Coordinators, other Head Start staff members, and local school
representatives have important roles to play in a child’s transition
to school. Key players involved in children’s transitions to kindergarten
include the following:
Start Transition Coordinators (or the designated staff person(s)
responsible for transitions) must ensure that transition is addressed
in the overall program plan. They should be available to assist staff
members in understanding the program’s transition process and
may be called upon to educate others about general effective transition
practices. The transition coordinator should be aware of all the relevant
timelines for transition and specific Head Start transition regulations
(see Head Start Performance Standards and the Head Start Act) and help
to keep both staff and parents informed about transition events such
as meetings at the local schools. Keeping families and staff informed
of timelines, regulations, and related events helps to ease the transition
of young children.
Head Start teachers and home visitors prepare children
for change and prepare a child’s records for transfer to the new
school. Teachers and home visitors may include special activities in
lesson plans to help children to prepare for the change to the new setting.
They should also support parents as they experience the transition of
their child, talk to parents about the new school’s expectations
for children, and help parents to become advocates for their child in
the new school setting.
Start Family Service Workers should support parents as they
learn about their child’s new school and the requirements for
enrollment. They should maintain open communication with parents and
may also be involved in coordinating plans and activities to ease child
and family transition. Family Service Workers may engage the parent
in the transition by taking the child and family to visit the school,
introducing the parent to the school PTA, and assisting the parent in
the enrollment process. Family Service Workers will also support parents
as they learn to advocate for the needs of their child.
Start Directors should be aware of changes to policies or regulations
both within Head Start, in the local school systems, or in the state
that could affect child transition to kindergarten. Directors should
oversee the transition process and support the role of the transition
coordinator ensuring that staff and parents are involved in transition
planning. An important role of the director is to maintain open communication
with local school administrators. This will provide programs with a
good foundation upon which to build an effective transition process
as children move ahead to school.
Local School Representatives
should become familiar with Head Start regulations that guide transition
and may be invited to discuss transition with parents and offer important
information about schools. Representatives may be kindergarten teachers,
school counselors, principals, or other school personnel who have a
particular interest in ensuring a smooth transition for young Head Start
to Head Start Information