During the past two weeks we have welcomed many new children and families into the Pre-school. We acknowledge that this can be a very stressful and trying time for families and children settling into new environments. Added to this is the fact that we are dealing with COVID restrictions and that families have not been allowed to come into the Pre-school for very long, or at all, to help and support their child’s transition into this new space. Please be reassured that our educators are highly experienced and competent and can support your child capably and warmly through this transition process.
We thank parents for their support and for working together with us to make this time for your child as smooth and as positive as possible. Please also know, that if your child is distressed during the day, we will call you straight away and we will ask you to come and pick your child up early in order to ensure that we can build trust with your child and make this Pre-school experience meaningful and rewarding for everyone.
Please read the tips below to help with this process:
Positive transition tips
Some children can take a while to get used to Pre-school or have fears about starting Pre-school. Pre-school gives your child the chance to make friends and practise skills like sharing, taking turns, following other people’s rules and getting along with other children.
A successful transition from home to Pre-school has long-lasting benefits and is important for all children. Children who experience a positive transition into their new environment are likely to feel connected, enjoy a sense of belonging and have a positive sense of social and emotional wellbeing, which allows them to learn and thrive. In early learning services, children experience transitions throughout their day – not just from home to the Pre-school. This includes transitions for the child from one part of the day to another; from big groups to small groups; care routines (such as meals, sleep and rest times); supported self-care routines (such as hand washing and toileting); and end-of-day to home transitions.
Common feelings and concerns
For the child, moving from home to Pre-school, involves being separated from their family, often for the first time. This can be an exciting time for both children and their families. However, it is common for children to have a range of feelings about starting in a new learning environment.
Some typical feelings are:
- feeling comfortable about entering a new learning environment
- feeling anxious, nervous or unsettled.
Some children settle beautifully in the first week or so and then can become unsettled and anxious a few weeks later.
Strong relationships between children, families and educators support child wellbeing.
It is a child’s first attachments with responsive parents and other trusting relationships that provide them with a secure base for exploration and learning.
Trusting, supportive and positive relationships provide children with consistent environments at home and in Pre-school. This leads to security and confidence, as well as greater learning, development and wellbeing.
The transition is more likely to be successful when educators and families communicate, and the relationships are responsive and mindful of everyone in the learning community.
Educators who develop nurturing relationships with children and provide them with consistent emotional support can help them make a positive transition into early learning services.
Strategies to support a smooth transition
- We encourage new families to start gradually and to work out a plan with their child’s educators that suits everyone.
- We invite new families to stay for 20-30 minutes with their child for the first week.
- We ensure that family members always say goodbye to their child before they leave. Your child may become upset at this time – but if you leave without them noticing, this will create distrust and further anxiety in the long term.
- We establish clear routines at the start of the year, that help children to feel safe. These routines require educators to always tell the child what is happening and to have constant conversations and explanations about the routines, in order for them to feel comfortable and to know what is expected.
- We communicate frequently with each child’s family, either face to face, via email, the phone or on Educa, to ensure families feel comfortable leaving their children in our care.
- We establish warm, caring and connected relationships with all families and invite them to be a part of their child’s journey in the Pre-school e.g. via posts on Educa, day to day conversations, new parent meetings, Parent Partnership forms etc. This partnership with families contributes to a common understanding about expectations for everyone.
- We consider your child’s individual needs carefully to ensure that the transition process is positive and effective.
Tips for parents
- Say goodbye confidently – saying a quick, confident goodbye may help your child to feel secure and reassured that you trust that they will be okay at school.
- Label your child’s belongings – labelling everything, including clothing, can help reduce anxiety for children, educators and yourself. At Pre-school, children are responsible for their belongings and labels can help them with this.
- Communicate with your child – take time to tell your child what might be happening at school that day, and in the afternoon, ask your child about their day. This is a great way to build confidence, and to find out how they are feeling as they settle in. If you have any concerns talk with your child’s educators, who will provide further insight to their day.
- Avoid overloading your child – when children begin school, they tire easily. It may be worth considering fewer extracurricular activities such as swimming, music or dance lessons, until they adjust to their new routine.
- Talk to your child’s educators about any concerns you may have. They will be able to support you in a consistent strategy that will assist your child to settle into their new environment. At times your child may need an educator to support your farewell. Work together to assess the best way for the transition or handover from parent to educator. Each child is different and requires different support, but by working together you and your child’s educators can plan and adapt strategies to meet your child’s needs.
- A consistent and predictable routine at drop off time can help promote a positive separation. Telling your child, you’ll be back after lunch or rest time can help him or her feel secure. Keeping your language predictable (by having a little script) can also be reassuring for your child. This builds a sense of familiarity and comfort, and children learn to predict ‘what comes next’.
- Once you’ve said goodbye to your child, it is time to leave! Dragging out the goodbye or going back several times because they are upset is not helpful for you or your child. It’s hard to walk away knowing your child is upset, but educators are highly skilled at settling children. The more confident you appear with this routine (even if you end up having a quiet cry in your car after drop off), the sooner your child will develop responsive relationships with the teaching team, and feel settled and safe.We understand that parents themselves may experience a sense of loss or be anxious during this transition. For example, you may feel concerned about your child’s ability to cope in the new environment. Building a partnership with families can contribute to a common understanding about expectations, which can help them adjust.
- Be part of the Pre-school. Children love sharing their new space and friends with their family. If you have the time you could volunteer to help out with various events. The more involved you are with the service, the more your child will see you have a strong relationship with educators, which assists them to feel secure and safe.
- Feel free to call the Pre-school to check in with them on how your child is going. It’s important you’re confident in the team supporting your child, and that you’re working together in transitioning your child into the program.
- Positive acknowledgment when your child meets new people or attempts new things is a good way to increase your child’s confidence and sense of competency. For example, acknowledge when your child is making attempts to interact positively with peers e.g. “I can see you and Tom both like rolling the ball. It looks like fun.”