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Children overlooked in the transition to primary school

Children overlooked in the transition to primary school

A Victoria University researcher has found that parents and teachers working through the transition from early childhood services to primary school sometimes forget to ask children for their input.

Maggie Haggerty, a senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington, would like to see children involved alongside teachers and parents when it comes to their journey to primary school.

“It’s of huge interest to parents and of course they want to be as involved as they can, but you also need to ask children how they are feeling.”

At this weekend’s Festival of Education in Wellington, Ms Haggerty will be facilitating a roundtable conversation between an early childhood teacher, a new entrant teacher and a mother of six about children moving from early childhood services to primary school.

The discussion will explore the participants’ experiences and allow them to share knowledge from their three different perspectives. There will also be an opportunity for the audience to contribute to the debate.

Previous studies have asked older students what advice they would give to other children before they start school, and Ms Haggerty thinks that this approach can offer valuable insights.

“A lot of children mention all the school rules that they need to learn. Teachers can sometimes underestimate how big an issue that can be for a child, when there are so many other things that they need to learn in a short time.”

Ms Haggerty is currently analysing the data she has gathered for her PhD thesis, which focuses on the transition to school. Her research suggests significant differences in approach between educators working in the early childhood area and those in primary education.

“It’s very important that there is enough communication between all parties involved, and to hear all the perspectives so we can better support children and their families across the transition,” says Ms Haggerty.

The Wellington Festival of Education is being held on Saturday 29 March from 10am at the TSB Bank Arena and Frank Kitts Park, and is free to attend. Researchers from Victoria University will be sharing their expertise in presentations throughout the day. More information is available at


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