Healthy Transition Processes: Supporting our Students’ Growth

As we approach the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, every student in our community will be going through some form of transition. For most, the transition is simply moving up a Year level. For others, they are transitioning into a whole new phase of school. A few students will be leaving the College, as is inevitable in an international community, perhaps to return to their home country or to another location for their parent’s employment. Whatever the reason, a transition that is well managed can lead to tremendous growth in a child and can be a positive moment in their life journey. Transitions that are poorly handled can cause significant social, emotional and academic harm. Below, Head of College, Mr Ingram, explains how we support our students through transitions, and provides suggestions to parents on how they can support their child;

Nothing is permanent:
The sun and the moon rise and then set,
The bright clear day is followed the deep, dark night.
From hour to hour, everything changes.
- Kalu Rinpoche 

The end of an academic year brings many changes.  We empower our students to take these in their stride because we know that the ability to live with change is an essential element of Graduating Worldwise.  How do we achieve this?


Celebrating Milestones

Celebrating milestones is a special feature of our College community.  Earlier this month, our Reception students marked the end of their Early Years education with the magical House sorting ceremony.  With the help of our College sorting hat we allocated each child into one of our four houses so that they are ready for Year 1.  On Speech Day, our Year 2 students mark their transition into Junior School and our Year 6 students mark their transition into Senior School.  We are looking forward to sharing these moments with their younger peers and with their parents.  Our Year 11 students will be celebrating the end of their IGCSEs with a formal dinner at the Amanyangyun Resort.  What’s the value of this?  Writing on this subject, author and speaker John Stahl-Wert shares why celebrating milestones is important:


Celebrating milestones provides affirmation of accomplishments

We want our students to be proud of what they have achieved and feel ready to move on to new challenges. For example, the IGCSE examinations are demanding so it is appropriate that our Year 11 students celebrate their completion before they embark upon the IB Diploma Programme. 

Celebrating milestones encourages future growth

We want our students to be motivated to take the next steps in their learning journey.  For example, when the Year 5 students see the Year 6 celebration, we want them to think “I need to aim high and work hard because next year that’s going to be me”.

Celebrating milestones promotes reflection

These special events give our community the opportunity to reflect on where we have been, where we are now and what we can learn from this part of the journey.  As Stahl-Wert comments;

“celebrating milestones reminds us to give thanks for everyday moments. When we pause to celebrate something that is noteworthy, the act of slowing down invites us to notice everything else”

Holding Transition Events

This term, we have held a range of transition events for students and parents across our College community. This week’s ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ team-building event for students in Year 6, Year 9 and Year 11 is perhaps the most intriguing example of this. The aim of all these events is to ensure that everyone feels ready to take the next steps in their Dulwich education. From knowing how to get to the science labs to understanding the homework timetable, we want students and parents to feel informed and supported. 


Acknowledging Change and Learning to Say Goodbye 

International schools are dynamic communities.  Turnover is low in our College, but every year staff and students leave Shanghai to move to new cities.  It can be difficult to say farewell to a friend or a favourite teacher.  Although there may be moments of sadness it is important to say goodbye properly; for those who are staying as well as those who are leaving. Our celebration assembly on the last day of term provides an important opportunity to recognise the contribution of those who are leaving and to wish them well for the future. Of course, we are fortunate to belong to a family of schools, and all members of our community are eligible to join the Worldwise Alumni Network.  This provides a powerful way of staying connected going forward. 

DCI Launches Worldwise Alumni Network to Build Bridges


Parent Power 

You can support your child through these changes by talking about your own transitions. The following questions may help guide your conversations with your child.

  • What have been your most memorable transitions?
  • How did you work through them?
  • What did you learn from them?
  • What was your toughest goodbye?
  • What were your favourite milestones? 

Sharing your memories will help shape your child’s mindset as they make their own transitions. Not just for next year but for life.


Baumgardner, Julie. "5 Reasons You Should Celebrate Milestones - First Things First". First Things First, 2017,,years%20since%20our%20daughter%20graduated%20from%20high%20school. Accessed 15 June 2021.