Workshop: Transition from Day Care to Primary School

How does a smooth transition from day care to primary school look like? Which factors contribute to a good and promising transition? Within the workshop transition from day care to primary school Dutch and German attendees had the opportunity to exchange experiences. They also became acquainted with tried and tested examples from the Netherlands and Germany.

Download the presentation “Boschveld / Tarforst” (PDF, 1 MB)

Topics and results

Expectation and ideas of Dutch and German pre-school children:

  • Scenes from a video survey showed children’s answers to questions on school: „Are you excited about the new school? Are you afraid?“
  • Dutch and German pre-school children have got different ideas how schooldays look like:
    • On the one hand, Dutch children don‘t yet have any clear perceptions of school life. They associate going to school more with playing than with learning.
    • One the other hand, German children have very defined expectations of school and associate it mainly with learning.

How does the transition in the Netherlands look like?

  • At the age of four enrollment at primary school:
    • Initial phase (three groups): Transition from one group to another group doesn’t depend on age
    • Individual support at the beginning
    • In the first and second group, the main emphasis lies on playful learning.
    • At the end of the initial phase, children concentrate on learning reading and writing.
  •  Daycare centre and school are in one building:
    • School starters know the older children and the teachers
    • Nursery nurse and teachers already know each other
  •  Passing on and continuing the development documentation:
    • Each child has a file in which it‘s development is documented.
    • If parents agree, the file will be passed to the school and the school can continue the file.
    • Attention: Pupils should able to start school with a clean slate!
  •  Routine, breaks and processes are well-known.

How can we reach a smooth transition from day care to primary schools? Why are some children and parents disappointed and insecure?

  • Empty threats and negative prophecies : „The serious part of life starts now!“; „You have to sit in silence!“ etc.
  • Children aren’t prepared for school
  • Parents don’t receive information about the new school, while children don’t have a chance to visit the new school and don’t know any new teachers.
  • Friends of the children are in different classes.
  • First school day: Parents don‘t have the opportunity to accompany their children to the new class.
  • It isn’t important any longer what children learnt in daycare centres.

Unanswered questions

  • How to prepare children for school
  • Do have parents the right to have a say?
  • How to organize the transition from day care to school


  • Situation in Netherlands: After transition from day care to school a four-year-old child took its parents by the hand and said: “Let‘s go. I want to introduce to you my new group and my new teacher.“
  • “My Vision: The City of Trier should try to put daycare centres and schools in one building!“
 „Isn‘t it nice to leave a chapter in one‘s life behind and to look forward to opening a new chapter?“ (Teacher)
  • “To feel safe, children should always be in the same building and know everyone.” (E. Vinken)
“Everyone should have a party when it‘s time to leave Day Care and start school!“ (S. van Wersch)