Schools in England and Wales are back this week. A new start for teachers, support staff, and children. Transitions are essential for new starts, the whole process of buying new school shoes, school uniform. For four years old, having conversations about school, trying on their new uniform, walking past the school and looking through the fence during the holidays. For children going into year seven trying out the journey before school starts, conversations about how they will do lunchtimes, whether they take lunch with them or have lunch there, the agreements over what food it is ok to have for lunch and what is not. For staff, preparing new resources, planning, these are all part of the transition preparation.

There are so many transition preparations that we do, that we can often forget about the significance of them. The first term for me in my nurture role is all about transitions. I have worked with staff and met the new children at the end of the last term, I am hopeful that the schools have put in place my recommendations for the individual children. There is a danger in this current climate that we can be inclined to rush transitions. I know many schools who are now choosing to have their four-year-olds start in school, full time from day one. I know some in Oftsed recommend this, and many parents would prefer this. Personally, I think the staggered start is better for children and teachers. I am often told again and again that children are in the nursery for so many hours now, the staggered start does not make sense anymore. However, a nursery is very different, even with reception classes following the EYFS, a nursery is not the same as school. Starting school is stressful, often the buildings are big, they are often noisy, there are different rules, there are more children in the class and fewer adults to support you. I believe children need time to adapt and staff needs time to get to know the children. We want children to start school from a positive place, we want children to feel supported and safe in school, we need them to have a good wellbeing, this is essential. I believe by staggering the start, even if it is by a week of half days and then a week of half-day and lunches and then third-week full time, this slower start helps children to get used to the changes, it helps children to become familiar with the changes. Of course, for parents, this can be really hard to manage with their time, and I do understand that, but I still believe for children’s good wellbeing, a staggered start is better.

In my family we have a big transition this year, our youngest is going to University in a few weeks, we will have moved over the last few years from a household of four going back to being two. This year our daughter has had a gap year, we have talked a lot about transitions, for her and for us and this has been good. This summer my husband and I have been away for quite a few weekends, partly work, partly seeing friends, partly time away together, to remind ourselves of the importance of quality time together. I am so aware it is easy to let changes happen without really planning or thinking about it, so I have tried to be very intentional and aware and to prepare ourselves for the next transition.

7 thoughts on “Transitions”

  1. Agree completely, Sonia. Transitions are so important for all of us. I’ve started to realise that I struggle with transitions myself and this has helped me to understand what my son goes through. The tension in the house today is already palpable, so we are lowering the number of demands, while gently preparing ourselves for tomorrow – and we’re also trying not to make the return to school feel too ‘significant’. It really is important to have an awareness of how hard it can be for children to move from a relaxed, ‘safe’ environment to one with all the demands and pressures that can occur, even in a primary school and no matter what year they are entering.
    We need more people (like yourself) who understand this. Thank you!


  2. I completely agree, I became part owner of a small preschool in April and my main aim was to concentrate on emotional well-being for our children. I introduced a fabulous yoga teacher to run 30 minute yoga sessions to help with children’s emotional well being during the transitional stages which we aim to continue this through out the year. We too have staggered our starter visits and have introduced all about me trays where the children have photographs of special people in their family, and any comforters they require. Getting the transition right is so important as it sets the platform for the rest of their journey with us.


    1. Hi, it seems that while we were concentrating on the settling in process for our young children we may have over looked the ques from the carers saying goodbye on the morning. We have just received our first notice of leave from a parent who has seen a heightened level of anxiety from her child while in the home, since starting with us following successful visits to the preschool. While in the nursery on occasion the child has become upset at the separation but has settled after comfort and reassurance from staff, however the parents feel they do not want to continue. I wonder if more preparation was needed in terms of parents adjusting to the transition. Something for me to think about.
      Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
      Thank you


      1. I think that is a really interesting question, I have been thinking a lot about transitions for parents as our youngest is going to Uni next weekend, a big transition for all of us. I know some settings who have parents staying in the room for the first few sessions at nursery, then they will be in the room but on the edge reading a book, then they may be in the building. Dr Terri Rose book Emotional Readiness: How early Expereince and Mental Health Predict school success talks about this approach. I know schools who have a coffee morning and a room for parents to go and just be on the first few mornings, with other parents there to support them. I thnk also in your parent interview/ meeting before the children start nursery/ school, expaining that it is normal for children to be more clingy, cross, tired, grumpy etc in the first few weeks, this is a big change. Encouraging parents to touch base and talk with staff. Talking about having a transitional object for the child and parent. It’s a hard one, but it is worth thinking about .


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