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Supporting Transition: This Week’s Thursday Tip

Supporting Transition is the Early Years is this week’s Thursday Tip from Canavan Byrne. Positive transitions enable children to communicate, explore and think. At times, these changes can be difficult and stressful for children and families. Therefore, the children need much support to successfully negotiate these adjustments.

The following are key considerations that should be practiced and promoted throughout a daily routine in an early years setting with key transition times for all children.

Supporting Transition Top Tips

  • Services should aim to keep transitions to a minimum while balancing a good range of activities based on age (active/quiet, small group/large group/individual, indoors/outdoors, Lunch/snacks). 
  • Ensure routines and transitions are managed consistently so that children can develop trust and a sense of security by knowing what comes next.
  • Ensure that transitions are calm, gradual and children have sufficient and realistic timeframes to complete transitions. This can be done by ensuring agreed roles e.g. One staff member helps children tidy up before dinner while another staff member reads stories in the quiet area.
  • Put a structured yet flexible daily routine in place, allowing time for children to follow personal interests and extend activities as much as possible
  • Transitions that must happen, involving moving from one type of activity to another, should be planned so that children who are ready before others have something to do to minimise wait times and keep children engaged..
  • It is considered important to recognise that some children need to be given more time, support and assistance to cope with changes in activity levels and/or types of activities, than others dependent on ability, age, stage of development and any additional needs.
  • All children may need additional support with daily routines at different times depending on changing factors such as mood, time of day, energy levels, hunger, illness, tiredness. Staff are mindful of this and check in daily with the  parents of each child.
  • Introduce rituals and give children roles to feel in control and promote independence where appropriate at key change over and transition times e.g. waving goodbye/hello, children moving their photo from in to out on a board to sign in/out, placing a favourite toy in a special place to get the next day.
  • Make key transitions and wait times fun and interactive e.g. tidy up songs, sitting in circle with a book/puzzle rather than waiting in a line. Engaging in pretend play e.g. marching like soldiers to the lunch room. 
  • Ensure the routine is meeting children’s needs and is adaptable/promotes individual choice for each child where possible.
  • Ensure parents are familiar with daily routines and maintain regular links between home and school. 
  • Observe and reflect on children’s experiences and learning opportunities at key transition times and throughout the daily routine and where necessary make changes to improve children’s experiences of the daily routines.
  • To ensure smooth transitions for children within the daily routine, aim to provide consistency of care for children so they will always have a familiar person with them during key transition times. This can be done by staggering break times, holiday roosters and minimising the number of additional staff coming in and out of rooms as much as possible during transitions. 
  • Give children positive feedback on how they completed transitions. 
  • Aim to identify, support and teach children new skills where needed to enable them to complete transitions independently according to age, stage of development and ability.

For more information on transitions including a range of activities check our our Supporting Transition in Early Years Services on the Early Years Shop.