Whether your child is starting new at Kids ELC or whether they are transitioning into a new studio children require support, a consistent approach and strong communication between educators and families. Secure attachments – robust relationships are vital for these transitions to be successful for the child. This is where the Circle of Security plays a key role in ensuring the child’s rights and needs are met. Additionally, our Reggio Emilia approach encourages strong relationships and the concept of Hear, See and Walk with the Child. Transitions can be an emotional experience for both families and the child. Children especially can often experience some difficulty settling into a new environment, particularly if they find it hard to separate from families.
Children understand new environments and can form realistic expectations about what will occur in them. They are also capable and competent in building new relationships with educators and peers whilst maintaining connections with former educators and peers. This demonstrates their ability to grow and explore their ecosystem.
Some children transition easily without any problems or major issues arising throughout the entire experience. Others however require a lot of support and additional strategies. Some children may start off eager and enthusiastic and the transition and then go in the completely opposite direction. Educators are experienced and trained to assist and guide children through the transition process. We do our best to support children and families, so they feel comfortable, secure, and safe in the new environment. The goal is for families to develop a sense of belonging in the environment and their wellbeing to be strong and supported.
We do this by;
Ensuring children have visits in their new studio with the other children, who will also be moving up, as much as possible
We provide opportunities for the studio to join in both environments so that they see educators in a variety of environments
Educators from all studios visit other studios regularly and say hello so that the children see familiar faces when they begin transitions. This aids educators when they begin to build relationships with the transitioning children
Educators continue to utilise the free flow open play environments for children to explore and learnt through play. This encourages children and educators to spend quality time engaging and interacting with one another
Educators use the time during visits to spend time engaged in connection making moments with the child/children with the child
During the writing up of the transition plan process, leads discuss the child and ensure all relevant information is passed on. Educators and families work together to paint a picture of the child that is detailed and informative
The transition plan includes visits into the child’s new studio. These visits are spread out and adjusted according to the child’s needs. This includes allowing the child to go back and visit their previous studio as needed
Educators from the current studio go with the child for their visit if needed
We ensure the child’s sense of ownership is still maintained by bringing in some of their belongings, giving them a locker, giving comfort toys during rest time, displaying their artwork and photos of them with friends around the studio
We provide a challenging and age-appropriate environments. We often provide experiences that allow for a range of difficulty so that children can scaffold their learning. This means starting with easier concepts and problems and master them and then move on to more difficult ones. This allows children to gain confidence, agency, and self-esteem.
We also provide a range of areas that children can go to according to their emotional regulation and needs. We ensure there are quiet spaces and spaces for large and small group interactions. Enriched cosy areas with identifying features can provide a sense of safety and comfort for a young child (Weinberger, 1996, P.86).
Having studios with familiar features is less cognitively demanding than learning about a studio which is completely new. Thus, familiar play materials and structures in each studio should be provided whenever practical and developmentally appropriate. Familiar materials can support a sense of competency, security, and capabilities for transitioning. This overlap of materials encourages children to become engaged in activities, and over time, challenges children to use these materials in new ways similar to their older peers. Of course, unique materials can attract the attention of transitioning children and maybe used to motivate them to enter and play in the new room (Weinberger, 1996, P.85-86).
As you will be aware though it may not always be smooth travelling with transitions despite all the above strategies. For children who are struggling we work with the families to try and resolve the issues and help the child to feel more comfortable and secure in the environment. This means educators spending a lot of time on secure attachments with the child and connection time. As well as developing and maintain strong relationships with families. The involves a lot of discussion around the Circle of Security, Rights of the Child as well as their underlying needs. Kids ELC values the environment as the third teacher therefore environments are closely examined as well in order to implement strategies to strengthen the child’s ability to feel safe, secure and confident. To assist with this,
Keep bringing them in each morning and be consistent with strategies discussed. These may include the use “I” messages and trust statements. Morning rituals can support consistency as well as social stories – children benefit from knowing what to expect. Families staying to play for short periods can aid some children however it can hinder others
Allow your child to bring in a comfort toy such as teddy or their favourite book
Talk to your child about the environment and show them photographs – this is where social stories can be beneficial
Ensure you are involved in passing on information about your child and a part of the strategies being suggested and implemented. Families are the primary source of knowledge for their child
Speak to educators about connections your child has made and experiences they have been involved in during the day so then you can continue discussions on these topics at home
Bring in a small photo album with photos of family
If your child is struggling with the transition process you can expect them to;
Have a toileting relapse
Have separation issues
Say they want to go back to the other studio
Maybe quiet when you pick them up
May say they don’t want to go to the Centre anymore
If your child is not struggling, they might be;
Happy, interested in experiences
Very chatty about the day they have had
Tell you all about their friends
Feel secure to explore and check in with educators throughout the day
Say they enjoyed it
Be relaxed and regulated
Be excited to see you when you arrive
May not want to go home
Transitions are a process and exhibit many of the same signs as milestones and developmental leaps. The transition process may end up taking a long or a short period of time however if we work together, we can ensure a positive outcome for the family and child. Our goal is for the child to establish a strong sense of belonging, agency, wellbeing, connection, security, and safety in the environment. Relationships are essential and the foundation from which the transition plan is built.
Reference / Resources
Weinberger.N (1996). Day Care Room Transitions for Toddlers: Recommendations for a Supportive Physical Environment. Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol 24