5th June 2024 Early Years Foundation Stage

Supporting Transitions within Nursery Settings

Change can be overwhelming for adults, so imagine how significant transitional periods feel for children. In early years settings, educators work hard to provide comfort and stability for the children in their care, but change is inevitable. Before even beginning school, children experience numerous emotional and environmental transitions. While these transitions are frequent, not all children navigate them comfortably or happily.

Transitions include not only moving from one setting to another but also moving “horizontally” within the same setting—such as transitioning from one room to another, learning how to approach routines and structured parts of the day like meal times, or alternating between home and nursery within the same day.

Managing children’s transitions smoothly and steadily prepares them for future success in handling their feelings and managing changes throughout their lives.

The role of the key person in nursery transitions

Ensuring that transitional periods are as positive as possible is crucial for young children’s development and emotional wellbeing. This responsibility involves key workers, room managers, and parents. A smooth and positive transition impacts a child’s ability to feel safe, play, and learn effectively.

Section 3.34 of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) highlights the importance of assigning each child a key person. This key person’s role is to tailor care to meet individual needs, help the child become familiar with the setting, provide a settled relationship, and build a relationship with parents or carers. They also assist families in engaging with specialist support if needed.

A high-quality transition experience ensures continuity between home, key people, and all settings involved in a child’s learning journey. Collaboration between settings and parents is essential to share information about the child, ensuring a positive transition. Additionally, other professionals supporting the child should contribute to this process.

According to “Birth to Five Matters,” it’s important for children to feel known, especially during transitions. Ensuring continuity between home, key people, and various settings is key to providing a high-quality experience for all children in the early years.

It is often the key person’s responsibility to recognise when it is the right time for a child to transition to a different room in the nursery stage, typically based on their learning and developmental milestones. The key person should discuss this transition with the parent or carer and ensure the new key person has all the necessary information about the child.

Planning the transition

Initial introduction: the new key person should visit the child in their current room to start building a relationship.

Short visits: plan short visits to the new room, accompanied by the current key worker, with activities the child enjoys. If the child is happy and comfortable as the visits progress, the key worker may extend the visit length, possibly including mealtime or collection.

Independent visits: eventually, the child should visit the new room independently without their current key worker, allowing them to build a new relationship with their new key person.

Introduce peers: if the child is shy, the key person may decide to transition them alongside a friend, if this is not possible, it may be a good idea to introduce the child to the other children in the new room and arrange some one-on-one and group activities.

Supporting children throughout transitions

Providing comfort and reassurance during transitions is crucial. Some children find changes more challenging and may require extra support. It’s important to give children plenty of warning about upcoming changes, whether they involve moving to a different room or changing activities. Visual aids, such as transitional objects, photographs from home, or storyboards, can effectively communicate these changes and help children understand what to expect.

Careful planning and support from key workers can make transitions a positive experience, benefiting the child’s emotional wellbeing and development. Throughout the transition, the key person should closely monitor the child’s response and progress. They should adjust the transition plan as needed, providing additional support or modifying activities to better suit the child’s needs. This ongoing assessment ensures that the transition is as smooth and positive as possible.

Supporting parents throughout transitions

Parents can have mixed feelings when their children transition to a new room or setting. They may feel their child is either not ready for the transition or should move early. Educators need to engage in open and genuine conversations with parents, providing information and opportunities to extend educational experiences within the setting.

Parents find comfort in knowing that those caring for their children have a good relationship with them. Visible and easy conversations between significant adults are reassuring for children and parents alike.

Separation anxiety can affect both parents and children. Warm exchanges between educators and family members are crucial in easing this process. Parents often offer a different perspective on their child, enriching the setting or school’s understanding. In turn, parents can learn from the setting to better support their child’s development at home. Encourage both children and parents to express themselves during the transition process, value their concerns, and support them every step of the way with clear communication.

Communication during nursery transitions

Effective communication is crucial for successful transitions. With Connect Childcare as your nursery management software, you can utilise the power of ParentZone to facilitate quick and effective communication between early years educators and parents. Here’s how:

  1. Enhancing Parent Engagement: 

Parent engagement is a priority during transitions. Through ParentZone, parents can stay informed about their child’s daily activities, progress, and any upcoming changes. This real-time communication creates a collaborative environment where parents feel involved and reassured.

  1. Sharing Information Seamlessly:

Using ParentZone, early years educators can share important information seamlessly. This includes updates on the child’s development, scheduled transitions, and any support strategies in place. Parents can access this information at their convenience, ensuring they are always in the loop.

  1. Gathering Valuable Insights:

Parents provide unique insights into their child’s behaviour, preferences, and needs. By maintaining an open line of communication, educators can gather this valuable information and tailor the transition process to better suit each child. This collaborative approach ensures a smoother transition and promotes the child’s emotional and developmental well-being.

  1. Supporting Emotional Wellbeing:

Transitions can be emotionally challenging for children. Through regular updates and feedback via ParentZone, parents can stay connected to their child’s experiences at the nursery. This connection helps parents provide additional support at home, reinforcing a sense of stability and security for the child.

  1. Facilitating Smooth Transitions:

ParentZone allows for the collection of visual aids, such as photos and videos, to help children navigate changes. Educators can also share resources with parents enabling them to prepare their children for upcoming transitions, making the process less daunting. 

By utilising Connect Childcare and ParentZone, nurseries can enhance communication during transitions, ensuring that parents are engaged and children receive the support they need. This collaborative approach not only eases the transition process but also contributes to the overall growth and development of the child.

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About the Author

Content Marketing Executive at Connect Childcare