Subject - Transitions
When do transitions happen?
As noted by Simona McKenzie @signoramac many people believe transitions only relate to starting school. However, this is not true - transitions happen throughout children’s lives and we must be ready to support them.
Emma @Emmad77 - transitions are between home & setting, setting & school, between different rooms, different times of day, one activity to another
Deborah Fielden @DeborahFielden - Don’t forget that children also need support for "home" transitions - moving house, new baby, parents separating, etc.
I think remembering that transitions are a process is key to supporting the child. We need to reflect on our own experiences of moving from home to nursery to school to a new class... even as adults from school to our first or a new employer. Think about the strategies we have developed to help us cope. If we can do that effectively, then we will be better placed to support the children in our care.
Preparing children for transitions is also important. While some transitions will be out of our control such as changes in the child’s home life, we can help them prepare for moving to or from the provision, between rooms (for group providers), welcoming visitors etc. Contributors agree that preparation must (where possible) start early to give families and children time to adjust -
Rachel Shaw @Shawbo - Viewing transition as a gradual and ongoing process not just an event
Deborah Fielden @DeborahFielden @Shawbo - Agreed - planning for any transition needs to start very early and include all parties.
What does the EYFS say about transitions?
Interestingly, the EYFS 2012 does not include the word ‘transition’ even though the vast majority of practitioners understand the importance of supporting children through changes that are happening in their lives.
Requirement 1.9 tells us that ‘As children grow older, and as their development allows, it is expected that the balance [of adult led and child initiated activities] will gradually shift towards more activities led by adults, to help children prepare for more formal learning, ready for Year 1.’
Resources to help define ‘transitions’
Here are some links to useful documents which will help us to learn more about transitions -
EYTalking @EYTalking - information from Education Scotland -
Chris Malone @ChrisMalone48 - EYFS transition packs available online - http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/early-years-foundation-stage-transition-packs
EYTalking @EYTalking - Transitions Matters information via Kent LA - http://www.kenttrustweb.org.uk/UserFiles/ASK8/File/Early_Years/Transitions_matter.pdf
EYTalking @EYTalking - useful information from Early Years Matters -
David Renfree @UCBChildEd - ‘Early Childhood Transitions Research: A Review of Concepts, Theory & Practice’ (2008) research paper -
Sarah Neville @Knutsfordchildmindin - Excellent article from Teaching Expertise -
Quality 4 EarlyYears @Quality4EY - Manchester's 'Effective Transition in the Early Years' document -
EYTalking @EYTalking - information from the Dept for Education and Skills -
EYTalking @EYTalking - documents from Norfolk Family Information Services -
David Renfree @UCBChildEd - NfER research paper ‘A Study of the Transition from the Foundation Stage to Key Stage 1’ (2005) -
EYTalking @EYTalking - Plymouth Partnership resources -
David Renfree @UCBChildEd - School Readiness and Transitions - 2012 UNICEF publication -
Lincs Montessori @LincsMont - Developing effective transitions information from Birth to 5 Service -
Supporting PSED during transitions
All contributors agree that the role of the key person and positive relationships are vital when supporting personal, social and emotional development during the transition process -
bumblin-on @tracyjoyce3 - positive relationships provide a safe base for children experiencing transitions
Mandy Pearce @Dampelk - remember children are individuals and tailor preparation to suit each child. Focus on the unique child
Laura Henry @LauraChildcare - using the three characteristics is essential to support transitions effectively.
Tracy Joyce @tracyjoyce3 Indeed - the role of the key person during transitions!
Quality 4 EarlyYears @Quality4EY - Defiantly it's all about knowing the unique child and their family.
We must not forget other aspects of PSED and transitions such as ensuring the child’s environment meets their individual needs - getting the resources right, making sure all children are included, providing appropriate clothes so children can play outside etc. We must also listen to the child as noted by Laura Henry @LauraChildcare who has written an article about the importance of listening to the child’s voice during transitions -
Support for SEN children
EYTalking @EYTalking - Research via the Institute of Education - The Early Years Transition & Special Educational Needs (EYTSEN) Project
Deborah Fielden @DeborahFielden - At CC where I worked, EY Senco chaired Transition Planning meetings with all agencies attending for each child
DTChildcareplus Ltd @dtchildcareplus - Children with additional needs will need further transition arrangements with careful planning in conjunction with their parents.
The following links might also be useful -
Improving access for disabled children -
‘A Better Start: Children and Families with Special Needs and Disabilities in Sure Start Local Programmes’ by Anne Pinney -
Working together to support the child
The EYFS 2013 states that settings must work together to support children and ensure their learning is complemented in all settings they attend. Contributors agree that good quality relationships between providers are important -
Quality 4 EarlyYears @Quality4EY - Transition relationships between nursery and new setting / school help ensure smoother transition for children and families
EYTalking @EYTalking commented that more support is needed for children who attend 2 settings at the same time.
Quality 4 EarlyYears @Quality4EY - Very true quality relationships essential plus communication between the settings
Christine Malone @ChrisMalone48 - childminders can be very good at linking with the setting also attended.
For group providers reading this information, it must also be stated that other settings such as nurseries and pre-schools must be prepared to work alongside childminders! We are hearing a number of Ofsted inspectors downgrading childminders because, despite their best efforts to communicate with other settings children attend, the settings have rebuffed their approaches.
It happened to me so I can speak first hand - I wrote letters, made phone calls, sent sharing information (with parental permission) and the child’s key worker at pre-school moaned to the child’s mother about me! She said she didn’t see the point in communicating with me because they did their own baseline assessment anyway and she was simply too busy. Information sharing has to work both ways - and the child must be put at the centre of everything we do or we are failing the child.
Easing transitions for children and families
All contributors agree that it is very important families as well as the children are fully engaged in transitions, especially when children arrive in a provision for the first time. This is especially important in relation to the 2 year entitlement as many of the children will not have attended group provisions previously and this might be their first time away from home - and parents’ first time without them (as evidenced by providers who have piloted the scheme) -
DTChildcareplus Ltd @dtchildcareplus - Parents/carers should be included in the transition process
knutsfordchildmindin @knutsfordchildm - the settling in process should be as flexible as possible to ensure secure attachments. Ours takes as long as children and parents need.
EYTalking @EYTalking - Tips for starting school for parents - a guide for parents http://laurachildcare.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/steps-into-school/
All providers who are required to comply with the EYFS 2012 must also provide parents with information including -
· Menus and information about healthy eating
· Policies and procedures including safeguarding and complaints in writing
· About the EYFS 2012 and how it is used - and where they can find out more
· Information about the range and type of activities and experiences provided for children
· The daily routines of the setting
· How parents and carers can share learning at home;
· How the setting supports children with special educational needs and disabilities;
· Staffing in the setting
· The name of each child’s key person and their role
· A telephone number for parents and/or carers to contact in an emergency.
For more information see EYFS 2012 -
Strategies to support children
Strategies to support children during transitions include using visual timetables in photo albums with pre-schoolers to help prepare them for a more structured day and -
Deborah Fielden @DeborahFielden - I read that @ABCDoes suggests giving each child a visitors badge wallet to put photos of significant people in and attaching to their clothes so they have it close to them all day - love that idea!
knutsfordchildmindin @knutsfordchildm - We created a photo book for parents to borrow before child starts. It contains photos of us, the house, garden, toys etc. We have had very good feedback from parents
Creche on Location @CrecheOnLocatio - For personal transitions, sharing resources with parents like books & favourite toys from the setting can help with security
Quality 4 EarlyYears @Quality4EY - Link with transition school and agree to have the same story sack for the child's last experience at nursery and first experience at school
Sarah Green @SarahSarahg662h - also Teddy Bears' picnic with current reception class to meet children and all staff. Creche on Location @CrecheOnLocatio agrees.
Alistair Bryce-Clegg @ABCDoes - displays featuring children work really effectively - https://twitter.com/ABCDoes/status/344545874707349505/photo/1
Christine Malone @ChrisMalone48 - parents, carers and children meeting new teachers and practitioners face to face for informal play & chat can ease transitions
Sarah Neville @knutsfordchildm - We give parents some information to support them as well! They often struggle just as much or sometimes more than their children
Mim @mimsy72 - we run music and movement sessions from Jabadao - very interactive and a much loved social activity, used as an ice breaker for new families
Lincs Montessori @LincsMont - Lincolnshire has transition cluster networks of PVI practitioners and schools to share information on assessment, visits, good practice etc
Rachel Shaw @Shawbo - Children start part time initially with parents to help settle in. We build up time gradually meeting individual needs
We are all focussing on transitions between providers and classes here - and need to remember that children might need support with other types of transitions as well. Consider as a reflective question how well you help a child whose parents are going through a divorce -
· What resources do you have in place to support the child?
· Do you have time to sit and listen to the child?
· Do you make sure both parents are provided with learning and development information about their child?
· How well do you manage the needs of a parent who tells you ‘dad can’t collect any more’ when you know dad has parental responsibility?
· How would you ensure dad gets a fathers day card when mum has made it very clear they don’t communicate any more? And how would you do this without being seen to be ‘taking sides’?
· What display material / photos etc do you have to show the child that their new family set-up is ‘normal’?
· Do you monitor attendance so you are ready to flag up issues if the child disappears?
Documentation for new children
Documentation normally includes an ‘all about me’ or child information form, given to parents before the child starts in the provision. Reflective question - are you inclusive - do you offer to complete it if parents cannot write or read or if they have English as a second language?
Ideas for creating a one page profile to support transitions contributed by EYTalking @EYTalking - http://www.helensandersonassociates.co.uk/reading-room/how/person-centred-thinking/one-page-profiles.aspx
Information about children’s home likes, dislikes, interests, community interests etc should all be requested from parents as well as details about their care needs (diet, medication etc). Ofsted are focussing on children’s home learning during inspections at the moment - so you need to find out how much they already know before they arrive in the provision.
This information enables you to note their starting points - their stage of learning and development against the Development Matters guidance document. If you do not know a child’s starting points, you cannot effectively show that they are making good progress.
Contributors noted the importance of having strategies in place to support new children and that continuity of experience is carefully considered -
DTChildcareplus Ltd @dtchildcareplus - lots of strategies are in place (or should be) in most settings, to ensure continuity of experience for children
Sue Cowley @Sue_Cowley - At our preschool we share the 'story making project' with local primary schl, children tell each other the stories during visits.
A number of contributors talked about home visits -
Creche on Location @CrecheOnLocatio - Home visits used to be carried out when I worked in a Setting, which was good so children knew an adult when they arrived.
Chris Malone @ChrisMalone48 - home visits by nursery or school are great if possible
Quality 4 EarlyYears @Quality4EY - Home visits feedback from parents that they are very useful for child to be seen at home & to share information
liz boorman @lizboo11 - Reception teachers doing home visits before starting aids partnerships with children and parents
Safeguarding note - childminders must take care if they are considering home visits because of the risks of going on your own to the home of someone you do not know. It might be more appropriate for childminders to arrange to meet parents in a mutually agreed place such as a local Children’s Centre, toddler group or coffee shop.
As Tracy Joyce @tracyjoyce3 also commented, some families do not feel comfortable about home visits and might refuse. It is important that, if they are used, home visits are combined with other ways of supporting the transition.
Should transitions between classes be linked to children’s age, stage of development and readiness?
bumblin-on @tracyjoyce3 - None of my own children struggled with transition to reception but did with the move to KS1. Too formal too fast?
Mim @mimsy72 - I also think transition from foundation stage to year one is sometimes more challenging!
Tracy Joyce @tracyjoyce3 Excellent point - Reception to KS1 - lack of understanding of attachments & PSED.
Christine Malone @ChrisMalone48 - one of the benefits of mixed age classes in small schools is smooth transitions eg reception to Year 1
EYTalking @EYTalking @ChrisMalone48 Very good point about smaller schools & settings. 'family feel'
Lincs Montessori @LincsMont - Having the nursery class next to our mixed R/Y1 class with shared outdoor area has meant transition is smooth. Very proud of our teams’ efforts
Christine Malone @ChrisMalone48 - Ofsted inspecting one site children's centres, daycare and schools separately hinders smooth transitions; discourages integration
Sarah Green @SarahSarahg66 - starting with story time swaps with reception teachers this week. Provides children with the opportunity for children to meet her
Ashlin Crutchlow @ashlin82 - should Transitions be all year round, better for the children -
Resources to support children and families during transitions
Here at Knutsford Childminding, the children often engage in a lot of ‘school room’ role play. The older children often come home from school and corral the younger ones into a circle to read them a book or take the register. We find this really helps them to understand what is going to happen at school when they are old enough to attend.
Other suggestions from #EYTalking contributors include -
Deborah Fielden @DeborahFielden - I can recommend Letter Box Library (@LetterboxLib) for books and stories to support all kinds of transitions
Quality 4 EarlyYears @Quality4EY - parents say that the use of family books is very positive & supportive when their children are settling-in
knutsfordchildmindin @knutsfordchildm - our favourite book for pre-school children is 'Starting School' by Janet & Allan Ahlberg. 'Topsy and Tim make a new friend' is also good and reminds many practitioners of their own childhoods!
EYTalking @EYTalking - ‘Harry And the dinosaurs go to school’ is also useful too.
EYTalking @EYTalking - The child's own internal transitions box or bag, with 'things' that belong to them & information.
Deborah Fielden @DeborahFielden - "Martha and the Bunny Brothers" and "Tom and Small", both by Clara Vulliamy (@ClaraVulliamy) are lovely stories about starting school
Books and articles for practitioners include -
Deborah Fielden @DeborahFielden - ‘Supporting Transitions in the Early Years’ by Liz Brooker
EYTalking @EYTalking - Great book by our twitter buddy Sue Allingham (@DrSue22) ‘Transitions in the Early Years’ from Pre-school books (@PreSchoolBooks)
EYTalking @EYTalking - ‘Understanding Transitions in the Early Years: Supporting Change through Attachment & Resilience’ by Anne O'Connor
EYTalking @EYTalking - ‘Transitions in the Early Years: Debating Continuity and Progression for Children in Early Education’ by Aline-Wendy Dunlop
EYTalking @EYTalking - a useful online article -
Further CPD opportunities
There is little point using the same transition strategy for new children year after year if it doesn’t support children or parents effectively. It is important to keep reflecting on provision and to constantly strive to improve. After a few weeks we invite parents in, ask if they are happy with how the transition went and discuss what went well and what might be changed ready for next time.
The children should also be involved - at Knutsford Childminding we use the Leuven scales to ensure our environment is set up to meet children’s needs and to monitor children’s wellbeing in the initial days and weeks in our care. We feel this gives us an excellent indication of how children are coping and allows us to immediately intervene if a child is failing to thrive -
DTChildcareplus Ltd @dtchildcareplus agrees - ‘it's also good to monitor success of transitions so as to learn, & evaluate what worked well and what didn't.’
EYTalking @EYTalking - good point... continuous feedback & evaluation of your service.
EYTalking @EYTalking - yes, reflective pointers, what did we learn, what will we change positive impact on child
Deborah Fielden @DeborahFielden - Agreed - learning from mistakes is very powerful!
Many providers forget to ask about the good - as well as the negative comments! It is important that you pat yourself on the back when something goes well! Nobody else is going to do it for you.
EYTalking @EYTalking thanked all contributors for an excellent hour of sharing. More next week!
Sarah - Knutsford Childminding
Contact me for more information.
Collated for #EYTalking 14.6.2013