Strategies to support children with transition

This week in school involves a transition morning or day for many children.  I posted this article a year ago about transition and have added some new strategies for you to try this week.

Some children find any change extremely difficult as it can evoke feelings of loss, anxiety and uncertainty. It is useful therefore that children’s transitions to new classes are managed with patience and understanding. For a child who has experienced many changes and uncertainty in their life outside of school, the transition to a new class and new teacher can be overwhelming. Children have to adapt to a new relationship, maybe a different way of working and a new class room environment, all at the end of spending six weeks away from school. The move from nursery to reception and from reception to year one is enormous for young children and can create many anxieties. It is beneficial if children are given plenty of notice about this and if there can be several visits to their new class and opportunities to spend time with their new teacher. The more time that can be allocated to this before the summer holiday, the easier the transition and settling in process will be on their return to school.

Staff strategy – helping with transition

Teachers who will be having the class after the summer break can send each child a card over the holiday acknowledging they are looking forward to seeing them back at school and having them in their class.

I suggested the above activity to some foundation staff a few years ago and although it can feel like yet another thing to do at the end of the school year, they have all found it makes an enormous difference in helping the children to remember them and adjust to being back. The staff are now committed to doing it each year. Many of the children make reference to it and it can help the parents to keep the memory of school alive for them during the long break.

Some new suggestions for you to try:

  • Talk to your class and encourage them to identify and discuss any significant differences e.g. different playground, different break or lunchtime or furniture being in different places.  Discuss how change can be difficult and talking about it can help.
  • Encourage each child to make a list of adults in school they can talk to and approach for help if  they need it.  This is particularly important for children moving from key stage 1 to key stage 2, as they may no be as familiar with the staff.  Ensure each child has at least two people on their list.  Keep the lists and explain that you will give them out to the on the first day back in September.  This really helps children who feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to think about who they can talk to.

Reflective language to try:

  • “Maybe you feel worried about coming to your new class because you don’t know me, but we will spend time together in September and you will get to know me.”
  • “Sometimes it can feel really hard when we have to leave a teacher that we know really well and go to a new classroom and start getting to know a teacher again”.

You may also find this free resource on transition useful.

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