There will be certain times throughout the year, when children will be starting in your setting or moving onto school. How are you going to be supporting the transitions for these children? Read on for helpful tips on supporting transitions for children. 

In this blog post we will be looking at the best ways in which you, as early years practitioners, can be supporting your children through transitions such as settling in, moving onto school or even supporting them through transitions in the home. It will also focus on how you can be supporting transitions for children within your setting who don’t speak English as their first language. It will include some top tips for welcoming these children to your setting and helping them to settle in.  

It is important to remember that for some families, the settling in period can be traumatic, especially if the child has never been away from their primary carer before. By having policies and a sound plan in place, will help everyone have a smoother transition period.

What transitions are children likely to experience?

When we use the term “transition” what is it we actually mean

A transition is a period of change, moving from one significant development milestone, or experience, to another. 

Transitions for children can be anything from moving up an age band within their nursery setting, starting nursery or school, moving house, making new friends, learning to walk etc. As part of a child’s development, they will be experiencing all different kinds of transitions, some we may not even think about. A child welcoming a new sibling to the family is a perfect example of when they may need some support from their nursery setting. The setting will be familiar to them and it is up to you as the early years practitioner to support the child through change and upheaval.  

Because these transitions are so varied, it is important you spend some time getting to know the children in your setting before assigning key workers. This just means that children will be placed with a key worker who they perhaps have built a relationship with or seem to be well matched. This works well for both the key worker, the child and their carers. the importance of that parent relationship: together you can work on getting to know the child, work out a ‘leaving routine’ and they know they can easily contact you should they have any worries or concerns. 

How to support transitions in your setting?

You will probably have in place aSettling in Policy, but as a rough guide a two – four week period is advised for settling in. This gives the child time to become used to their new surroundings, to form a relationship with the staff and for the parents to ask any questions. 

To help a child settle into your setting here are a few things to try:

  • Before working with any child, make sure you have all their appropriate documentation in place. You will need to know if they have any allergies, what comforts them and their emergency contact information. 
  • Work closely with all the adults involved with the child. This will help you to build a bigger picture of their upbringing, likes/dislikes and who is in their family. Strong and positive relationships between practitioners and parents are key to ease separation anxiety for both the child and parent. 
  • Ensure learning journeys, observations and progress reports are clearly communicated with parents and carers. If this is their first experience with a nursery setting, make time to go through systems and procedures. Explain what learning journeys are used for and how you will be carrying out your observations. Remember to use language that is appropriate for parents and avoid terminology. 
  • Spend quality time with the child you are settling in. Allow time for them to explore their new environment, ask questions and express themselves freely. This could be through imaginative play, art or physical activities. 
  • Use your early years resources to engage children in play and small group activities to build their social skills and those special relationships. 
  • Books are a brilliant resource for supporting any transitions for children. They can help both children and adults prepare for a transition and may answer any questions they may have. They can also be a lovely way for children to settle in, by selecting a favourite book they may read at home and sharing it with a small group. This familiarity can ease any anxiety and is a good tool to settle children. 

Ways you can support transitions for EAL children in your setting: 

Whilst most children will follow the same settling in policy or be supported through transitions from their key workers, it is important to take into consideration the children who don’t speak English as a first language. There may be certain barriers you will need to take into consideration, which you will need to overcome in order to support these children during their settling in period. 

Will they need a slightly longer settling in period? 

What tools and early years resources do you have at your disposal, to support these children.What information can you be gathering before the child starts, to help support their needs

It is good practice to find out as much information about a child as possible. Spend some time getting to know about the child’s culture, family history and background. Things like their favourite foods, what names they call each other and if they have any special routines or rituals would all be helpful to know. This will not only help support the child, but also build the relationship with their parent/carer. 

As a group, you can all help make a new child to the setting feel welcome. Talking to the child and being patient are all important skills to use here. Some children may settle quicker than others, but with the right level of support and time they will soon settle along with their peers. Just remember it can take a little longer for some children and this may mean you need to extend their settling in period. 

Using Polylino as a resource for transitions. 

To support transitions and settling into a new nursery,Polylinois an excellent resource for nursery settings to support their children. 

Polylino is a multilingual digital picture book service for nurseries and primary schools to use with children aged 0-7 years old. The user-friendly digital solution hosts a wide range of picture books which can be read aloud or listened to in English. Many of the books can also be listened to in over 50 different languages as well. 

It may be a nice idea to set up a reading corner that is welcoming for children and let your new starters select a book of choice from the Polylino library. This can then be shared in a small group, trying to keep it calm and not too loud, to start building those relationships. 

There are some great  tips here  on how to continue storytime at home, which may also help support parents as their child starts nursery. 

This blog post has hopefully provided you with some ideas and inspiration on how to support transitions for the children in your setting. Whether you are welcoming new children in at the end of the summer, or helping others move on to start school, you should by now have a sound idea of what is needed to support those children. We have also talked about multilingualism within your setting and why a longer transition period may be needed in some cases. 

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