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The Transition From Head Start to School: A Team Approach

Transition Coordinators— From Planning To Evaluation

Guiding Transitions In States

A Focus on Outcomes


Head Start Information—Transition Coordinators and Others

The Transition From Head Start to School: A Team Approach
The 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:

  • Head 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.

  • Head 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.

  • Head 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 children.

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