Introducing Your Child To Our School
How We Introduce Children to the Old Firehouse School
At OFS, a young child’s relationships with their caregivers-parents and teachers are sacred and essential for the well-being of the child. Secure attachment is fostered through continuity of care and trusting relationships.
In order to create a strong foundation to the development of the relationships between the caregivers-parents, children, teachers and the school, the OFS developed some strategies to ease the transition from home to school, knowing that this transition is one of the major separations a young child will experience with his/her primary caregiver-parent.
As I was reading the book “Bambini,” I realized that the work to help a child and his/her family to gradually transition into a center is also an important focus in Reggio. As a matter fact, educators in Italy use the word “Inserimento” to describe that type of transition.
“Inserimento (which can be roughly translated as “settling in” or “period of transition and adjustment”) is our term for the strategy of beginning relationships and communication among adults and children when the child is entering an infant-toddler center or a preschool program for the first time. The Italian concept of inserimento indicates the initial delicate process of the child’s adjustment into the new community.”
- Chiara Bove, Bambini
Strategies used for introducing children to the OFS school:
Everything starts with the Open Houses. They are scheduled during the evenings in January and February. Caregivers-Parents are invited to come to the school to see the environment, to meet with the teachers, to hear about our philosophy and the approaches that inspire us, and to see some of the documentation work through short videos and panels.
Once it is established that there is a space available for the child, the caregivers-parents are invited to come to see the environment during school time and to observe the interactions between the teacher (probably their potential child’s teacher) and the children.
At this time, the parents can think if the environment and the philosophy of the school is a match for their child. Once the child has been accepted, the parents will receive a package containing the school’s handbook and a number of forms and questionnaires to fill-out. In the month of August, the families will receive at home an invitation to our orientation with the picture of the child’s teacher on the back.
Also the teacher will contact the family to schedule a home-visit.
About two weeks before school starts, the child is invited to spend an hour in the classroom. This is the orientation for children who are age two and above (cf. Video – Inserimento di Gruppo). They will meet again their teacher and they also will meet a few other children (~5) who will be attending the school at the same time. Their parents are present as well and they can meet other parents who are experiencing the same thing that they are. During orientation, the teachers are here focused on the children and administrators are here as well answering parents’ questions and concerns. That day, the child also receives a two-page book that will pictorially describe the “routine” of the day. The teacher will go over the book with the children and then each child will be able to bring their book home. On the first day of school, the near presence of one of the caregivers-parents is expected and during the first few days we want them to be immediately reachable in case needed.
For the infants/toddlers, the caregivers-parents are invited to come over the Summer to spend a few hours (in the early evening or over the week-end) with their child in the environment, so the young child can safely explore the environment. For infants, the entrance into the center by individual families is staggered. In addition, the presence of one of the caregivers-parents is expected during the child’s first few days at school.