Based on these common principles, we developed first actions that would be undertaken to ensure a more smooth and warm transition for all children and families:
- The childcare centre childcare centre Mezennestje (P9) started to organise monthly family moments for families in the neigboorhoud to support them in the education of their children and more specificaly the transition to preschool. Staff of the preschool are also present to talk about this big step with parents.
- The pre- and primary school Kolva (P10 -Sint-Maartensinstituut, Moorselbaan) started with welcoming parents in the class of the youngest children. Before that parents had to wait outside the school and rarely had opportunities to talk to the teachers of their children. Staff of the childcare centre childcare centre Mezennestje (P9) supported the teachers how to organise a ‘settling down time’ for children and their parents in the school.
- We organised staff meetings with all the involved partners to inform and make other colleagues aware of the problems that occur for children and families in transitional periods. This is an important step in order to make sure the innovations that take place in this project will be sustainable in all the organisations. Out of these staff discussions it for example became clear that also in the childcare centre, it is important to again work on vision on how to welcome children and parents through settling down time. So the action of welcoming parents applies to both the pre- and primary school Kolva (P10 -Sint-Maartensinstituut, Moorselbaan) and the childcare centre Mezennestje (P9).
In order to research how parents themselves experience the transtion from home or childcare to preschool education, we organised 4 focus groups and 10 individual interviews in the period January –March. The associated partner, advocay poverty organisation Mensen voor Mensen NGO, together with VBJK, a Centre for Innovation in the Early Years (P4) took this in hands. They organised, invited parents (with the help of the childcare centre and the preschool) and analysed the data in different meetings. The analysis of the data has been presented to the learning network in two sessions. Based on the discussion of the analysis, the participants enriched their current actions and developed new actions like how to create a caring, emotionally safe and exciting outdoor play ground for children and parents. The majority of parents problematised the lack of care and supervision of children during the moments children are not in the preschool class (outdoor playtime, lunch, …). As it is challenging or sometimes even not possible for parents to go in dialogue with the preschool staff, they are worried about this and some expressed that they would rather keep their children home. However, they find preschool an important educational environment for their children in terms of learning the dominant language, learning to be in a social group and learning to become autonomous in life.