Welcome to the Let’s Talk Transition! Family Engagement During the Transition to School discussion board! This discussion board is part of FINE Interactive— a component of Harvard Family Research Project’s (HFRP) Family Involvement Network of Educators (FINE). We launched this board as a follow-up activity to our December 2013 issue on “Innovative Approaches to Preparing and Training Educators for Family Engagement.” Christine Patton, Senior Research Analyst at HFRP, has teamed up with Shannon Wanless, Director of the SEED Lab in the Department of Psychology in Education at the University of Pittsburgh and co-author of a FINE article on PD, to host this discussion board. We welcome educators and administrators who serve children ages 4-6 and who have a transition-specific family engagement goal.


This discussion board will provide a dynamic platform for educators and others who want to achieve their goal of improving the transition to school for children and their families. In particular, the board will allow each of you to find, react to, and share relevant resources to help families and children in this exciting but oftentimes challenging process. We expect that you will have lots of goals you’d like to consider, but in order to help each other set and achieve goals most effectively, we suggest that you set one goal at a time (check out our Goal Setting post for more information).


Participating is easy. You can read through the posts and complete the activities at your own pace. We’ve sequenced the board into 9 steps. Feel free to jump around, though, if you’re not sure how to proceed with one of the steps, or if you just want to see what others are up to in later steps.

We’d love for you to comment on our posts and respond to other users’ comments (If you need some quick instructions on how to comment, click here). We anticipate receiving a lot of creative and thoughtful responses and are confident that we will all learn from these exchanges! We may use the stories and ideas that are shared here to develop future articles for the FINE Newsletter and other publications. All ideas are welcome!

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Step 1: Introduce Yourself (text-based image)

So that we can create a sense of community, we’d love to learn something about each of you. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Click on the comment link below to answer the following questions:

  • What is your current role/job title?
  • How do you engage families in your work, in general?
  • What motivated you to join this discussion board?
  • Why are you interested in the transition to school?
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Resource Exploration

Step 2: Go on a (web) field trip (text-based image)

We hope that you will use this board, in part, to find inspiration in existing resources. Select and explore one or two of the resources linked below:


  1. Ready for Success: Creating Collaborative and Thoughtful Transitions into Kindergarten
  2. Family Engagement in Transitions: Transition to Kindergarten
  3. A New Approach to Transitions: Welcoming Families and Their Ideas Into Kindergarten Classrooms
  4. Parenting Plays a Key Role as African American Boys Move From Preschool to Kindergarten
  5. Transitions: A Community Perspective on Transitioning into Kindergarten (video)

In the comments, tell us:

  • What new ideas and strategies did you learn from your reading or video viewing?
  • Based on what you read or heard, what do you see as the main barriers facing families during the transition? Facing children? Teachers? Community members?
  • Have you encountered similar barriers in your transition work with families and children? If so, how did you handle them?
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Resource Bank

Step 3: Use & add to the resource bank (text-based image)

The links that we posted in Step 2 are just a few of the many resources that are available on the transition to school. We’re sure that you have a go-to resource that you reference during your transition planning. If you don’t have one, we’re confident that you’ll find one here!

In the comments, tell us the following:

  • What other tools and resources do you currently use to help your transition work with families?
  • Where else could you look for other useful resources?
  • What kinds of resources have you had the most success with?
  • Could you develop your own resource? Do you have any opportunities to co-create one with a colleague?
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Practice Depot

Step 4: Tap into what works (text-based graphic)

Good practices come in a variety of formats and can be adapted to the different needs of the families that you serve and the settings in which you work.

In the comments, tell us following:

  • What successful practices have you used or have you heard about to engage families in the transition to school?
  • What practices have you thought about trying?
  • What practices would work best with the families that you serve?
  • How can you adapt the practices that other board users have shared in the comments to suit the needs of the families that you serve?
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Goal Setting

Step 5: Tell us your goal (text-based image)

Setting too many goals at the same time can be overwhelming. As you get started, we suggest setting one specific goal for engaging families during the transition to school.

As you create your goal, consider some of the following:

  • Did any of the readings (or video, if you watched it) from the web field trip inspire you to think differently about the transition to school? If so, how did they encourage you to direct your transition efforts in a new way?
  • Do you need to establish stronger partnerships with libraries, LEAs, or other community organizations to help families successfully transition to school?
  • Do you need to form a transition team whose members represent the different educational, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds of children and families in the community?
  • Do you need to coordinate services for children and families that will be leaving your program?
  • Do you need to assess how families perceive the usefulness of your existing transition practices?

Setting yourself up for success starts with setting a goal is that it is “SMART”:


What exactly are you going to do? Trying to talk to families more frequently about the upcoming transition may sound specific, but  actually, calling one parent each day is even more specific. The more specific you are, the better able you are to take stock of your progress — that is, it helps you with “M” —


How are you going to evaluate your progress? Most goals can be measured either by counting (Did I do this once per day?) or by rating yourself on a scale of 1-5 (How well did I do this today?).


Are you able to achieve this goal? Is it realistic? Ask yourself if this is the right time for you to attempt this particular goal. If you are unsure, consider lowering the bar for yourself slightly and save the bigger goal for next time.


Does this goal really help you address the main issue? If not, how can you get to the heart of the problem more directly?


What is your time frame for carrying out your plan for achieving this goal? Different goals require different time frames; two or three weeks might be a reasonable amount of time for some, while others might require more time. At that point, you can revise your goal as needed or create a new one.

What’s your SMART goal for engaging families during the transition? Tell us in the comments!

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Step 6: Test your readiness (text-based graphic)

As people learn new strategies, they need to be ready to implement them (source). Readiness generally refers to one’s past experiences with specific topics, level of stress or comfort, self-efficacy, and openness to change.

Ask yourself the following to see how ready you are to take on your new goal:

  • Do you feel ready to take on your goal? Use this link to take our readiness assessment. If your readiness score is low, don’t give up! Just think about picking a goal that feels more doable.
  • If you have any hesitations, what are they?
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Psychological Safety

Step 7: Think about how safe you feel (text-based image)

People need to feel safe taking risks as they learn and try out different techniques related to a new goal. They also need social support (source). You might ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What are your concerns as you approach your new goal?
  • What hurdles do you need to overcome as you work to engage families in the transition to school?
  • What can you do to feel more comfortable/safe as you take risks in engaging parents in new ways around the transition to school?
  • Do you have the social support you need? If not, how can you obtain it? Are there other users of this board whom you can reach out to?

And, we all benefit from sharing experiences—offer support and advice to those who are working through these challenges!

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Step 8: Measure your progress (text-based image)

We know that when people track their goals and rate their use of strategies to reach those goals, it helps them keep their goals in mind in order to achieve maximum success. The following questions might be helpful as you consider your progress:

  • How will you assess whether the transition practices related to your goal are working?
  • Do you have an assessment tool that you’d be willing to share with others?
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Reflections & Next Steps

Step 9: Reflect on the process (text-based image)

We hope that you’ve had a great experience with the Let’s Talk Transitions! discussion board and have enjoyed interacting with us and other users!

In thinking about your participation, please tell us:

  • What have you learned from participating in this board?
  • In what ways have other users been helpful as you’ve undergone the process of setting and working toward your goal?
  • How can you get more out of your participation in the future?

As part of your participation in this board, we asked you to set a specific goal for engaging families during the transition to school. Tell us:

  • How well did the goal-setting process work for you?
  • How would you modify the process in the future?
  • What are your next steps? What additional resources, if any, do you need to complete those steps?

And, finally! Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?

Come back when you have a new goal to try out, want to share new resources, or want to reconnect!

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