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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Building A Solid Foundation for School - A Communities Approach

The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth presented a paper titled "Building a Solid Foundation for School - A Communities Approach. The paper argues that there are more factors involved in school readiness than just the child's ability or maturity level. Readiness for school involves a partnership between the family, child, school, the community and the services provided within that community. The integration or partnership of these components build a solid foundation that caters for the social, emotional, physical and cognitive needs of all those involved in the partnership.

The child can no longer be looked at as a bystander to their own development and involvement. The authors note that "The agentic child is defined as a social actor who participates in his/her life and co-constructs education with adults and peers [2]. It is the collaboration between the child and the adults that makes for a successful process. Indeed, recent policies focusing on
young children assert this view." Children are shaped by the process of involvement in the experiences they encounter. They are not passive participants. Therefore the collaborative partners must work together to provide the child with positive experiences as they enter school or transition from one school to another. "The process of starting school should not be sur-rounded by loss and grief; rather it should be a time of optimism and excitement, as solid foundations, which have been built over time, support the transition to a new way of being – that of a school student."

To improve outcomes for children we must work together as a community to nurture the needs of the child. Providing quality resources and programming for the child and the family throughout their entire school life is required to promote a healthy lifestyle as an adult. Family daycares can provide early literacy and numeracy curriculum and information to parents as more children are in daycare from an early age.

Parents and children can become involved in community organized events that showcase important issues like safety, hygiene, nutrition, how to look after their body, traffic safety and many more. These programs in the community can be beneficial for child, parents and the agencies offering the event.

The paper outlines many strategies that schools can implement as children transition into school: play based learning, welcoming events, rest breaks and more.

This information is extremely important to consider for our children with disabilities as the community becomes an outlet for services to aid in the transition of children into a suitable school environment. The school also needs to look at the child's strengths, interests, ability level in order to implement a program that is based in the individual child.

The paper encourages communities to become more involved as the education of our children becomes more complex. The collaboration of partnerships within the community is paramount in giving children the most engaging and positive experiences to enhance life long learning.

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