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Welcome 4th Graders!

Easing into a big transition

Our school district has four primary schools so the first time the students unite is when they all transition to the 4th grade and become one big class. Everyone is anxious, students and parents. Our design team wanted to revamp how we had handled this transition in the past and instead create a more welcoming atmosphere that could better lead to relationship building with families and parents.


Information on this page is provided by the innovator and has not been evaluated by HundrED.

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Target group
November 2023
As educators, it is important to check our egos, and just listen. We need to invest time to partner with parents and regard them as equals in order to establish and sustain family and school engagement. This will ultimately support improved school performance, especially for our marginalized students.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

It was top of mind that 4th grade transition in our district is the first time that families are mixing together in one school. Traditionally, we had approached this milestone with one-way information provided by the educators to the parents. We wanted to change that and make it a more joyful, productive and unifying experience for everyone.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

Our school has homerooms, and teams, so when families checked in to the event, the students learned which of the four groups they were assigned to for their upcoming 4th grade team. This gave parents, teachers and students a chance to meet and get a head start on knowing those on their team.

The teachers wanted the welcome event be held on a Sunday as this is the day that families are often together with fewer conflicting commitments. The event was staged outside where there was plenty of room for the teams of students to participate in activities and challenges, including a school banner that everyone signed. While children played and got to know one another in the process, the parents had the chance to meet and talk.

The parents left with some school information, but also feeling more comfortable and confident about the transition.

How has it been spreading?

We replicated the 4th grade welcome event in the succeeding year, again on a Sunday, and had nearly all of the 4th grade teachers volunteer to attend. The teachers had felt the positive impact during the school year and increased connection with families and parents.

Having seen the value of focusing more creatively on 4th grade transition, we iterated to revamp the next big milestone, the transition from 6th to 7th grade. Again, we held the event on a Sunday and incorporated some changes, lessons learned from prior experience. More than 50% of the 6th grade class was in attendance. An iteration of the 6th grade send-off is already on our radar.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

Having parents on your team is invaluable. They gave us credibility when they conducted empathy interviews to learn about the needs of our community. We talk a lot about partnering with parents but sometimes we don't really partner. Sometimes we dictate to the parents, and vice versa. Slow down and really partner and build trust. Have really honest and authentic conversations.

Spread of the innovation

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