When will a transition happen in the Early Years
A transition in the early years can happen for many reasons, this can cause many changes for the child. Transition may be when the child first begins a setting, moves rooms throughout a setting as they become older, leaving a preschool to begin school and finally leaving the EYFS to begin year one. These transitions need to be managed sensitively for all children including children with SEND. Depending on when a child begins an early years setting and the size of the setting these transitions may happen more or less frequently. In a large setting with a variety of rooms a child may experience 4 or 5 transitions. It is crucial that all early years practitioners are working closely together to ensure all crucial information about the child is shared, all multi agencies involved are aware of the changes, and that the parents and the child are prepared for the transition.
What can practitioners do to support transitions?
All settings should have policies and procedures in place to support all practitioners in preparing children and parents for a transition in the early years. This may involve various pieces of paperwork such as sending over learning journals, development tracking sheets, IEP’s and current all about me forms. Many early years settings offer trial sessions where a child can stay and play in the new environment and begin building relationships with their new key person. A SEND transition may be more complex due to the number of people involved in the child’s care and the additional needs they have. It is good practice to arrange a meeting involving the parents, old key person and new key person to discuss any additional needs. The meeting should share the changes that will happen such as to the routine, the support that is already in place, what support needs to continue and the expectations or concerns that anyone has. This is a great way of information sharing and ensuring that the child’s transition is as smooth as possible.
How can parents be supported through transitions?
As an early years key person you should have built a relationship with the parents of all of your key children. It is then your job to prepare the parents and keep them informed of the changes that about to how, the impacts it might have on the child both positive and negative and handover to the new key person. Arranging a time with the parents to show them around the new environment would be highly beneficial or where a child is making the transition to school arranging a transition meeting is the best procedure.
What to expect from a transition meeting
A formal early years transition meeting is useful when a transition is happening from one setting to another rather than through a setting. These meetings should involve as many professionals who are involved with the child as possible. It gives opportunity for everyone to discuss their part of the child’s development they are involved with. As a practitioner you may want to take copies of progress summaries or learning journals to evidence where you have found the child’s development to be at. These meetings are a time for everyone to be honest and to create a plan of how to make the transition as stress free as possible for everyone involved. It also ensures the setting has a starting point and are able to offer the correct support from the start.
Further reading; Transition in the Early Years: From Principles to Practice, a great book for early year’s leaders, managers and practitioners to identify and address issues around transitions across the early years.