I was talking to a year two teacher this week who is going on maternity leave tomorrow. Some of the children in her class have become very clingy to the teaching assistant who works with her in the class. One child is getting particularly distressed and burst into tears when she went to the toilet. I suggested she sit with him and explain that she is not leaving the school and will still be in his class when he returns to school after the Easter holidays. I encouraged her to give him a finger puppet to look after for her during the day so he knows that when she is leaving the room she will be coming back.
For this child, change can often be difficult, especially if it involves people leaving as his dad left him and his mum in Nigeria for two years when he was three and came to England to find work. Although the family are reunited and settled happily here, he still finds people going away hard to manage.
If you have a child in your school who finds it hard to manage relational changes such as staff leaving or being absent, try giving them an object to look after as a link to that person and to enable them to have something to hold on to to help with the change.