Little transitions, moving from one setting to another or one activity to another, constantly happen during a child’s life and they offer many learning opportunities.
Transitions are opportunities for educators to:
- Engage and build relationships with children
- Nurture the development children’s social and emotional skills
- Communicate to children that they are in a safe, secure and predictable environment
- Our role as educators is to understand each individual child; what they are saying through their behaviour and what they are feeling and thinking. All these can offer give us some hints into what would support a smooth transition for them.
Our role as educators is to understand each individual child; what they are saying through their behaviour and what they are feeling and thinking. All these can offer give us some hints into what would support a smooth transition for them.
At the webinar
Watch and notice the many little transitions Zac encounters during his day at preschool.
Take it a step further and investigate with us how educators can observe, reflect and plan to provide positive, secure and inclusive transitions for each child.
Here are a few key ideas and considerations of what we covered during the webinar.
It starts in the morning
Even before the pre-school day begins … have we considered how many little transitions a child has already experienced before they arrive at our service?
What the webinar participants observed about Zac’s start of day?:
- Zac was greeted in a friendly manner by the educator meeting Zac at his level in height and giving eye contact
- Zac brought something from home to share
- Educator was crouching down to his level and talking with genuine interest
- A feeling of belonging because Zac had a special place for his belongings
- The parent took his time to settle the child
- Calmness and structure to directions were given
What else supports children’s transition where children might be having some difficulties?
- An adult to interpret children’s feelings―saying “I can see that this hard for you”, or ”I can see that this makes you upset”
- Ensuring warmth and acceptance are given to children who are upset―unhurried time no matter how long that connection takes
- Having an activity the child enjoys doing set up may be better than free play for some children
‘I had a few children that needed time on their own to settle but being nearby was essential’
The day (and transitions) continue
Think about the number of transitions that children have in a day, and then consider:
- Are they always necessary?
- Do they allow children enough time to become involved and then finish activities?
- Does it feel like there is constant changing and rushing from one thing to the next?
We visited Zac at group time discussing the dinosaur they have been building. We saw great interest and enthusiasm from Zac, his friends and educators. How would Zac have responded if his transition to group time required him to pack away this special creation?
When things don’t go well …
“Listen to the child. Behaviour is a language that educators need to listen, observe and try to interpret the underlying reasons for this behaviour. Children behave in this way for a valid reason, not for the sake of being negative” ~Webinar participant
Children respond differently based on their personality traits, past experiences, environment. We can get valuable insights by paying particular attention to individual children, using observation and through, what Circle of Security calls, ‘being with the child’. This could be sitting quietly with the child, or engaging with the child during a child lead endeavour. What is fundamental is thinking about what children might be thinking and feeling.
We need to consider:
- What the child might be thinking?― I don’t feel safe, I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know what’s being asked of me or expected of me….
- What the child might be feeling?―overloaded, anxious, fearful, pressured
- How is the environment contributing?―by being too busy, too large, too noisy
Now it’s time to go home
We re-joined Zac at the end of his day, happily reunited with his mother and showing her what he’s enjoyed.
Webinar participants noticed:
- Physical greeting from mother and sharing his experiences with interest and open ended questions
- The mother is showing she is confident and comfortable with the care environment which would have a positive effect on Zac
- Not rushing off into the next thing, taking the time to ‘close’ up the day for him
- They (educators) did not make him tidy up his creation and shared special activities
Not everyone reacts in the same way. Some children find this end of day time more difficult. They may display some acting out behaviours such as hitting their parents or running off and hiding. All of these provide us with an opportunity to put ourselves in the child’s shoes and understand what they are thinking and feeling. What can we do to make sure that the process of going home is predictable and an opportunity for a child to share a bit of their day with their parent?
These little transitions during a child’s day may seem insignificant to us as adults but they are not to the child and the tweaking of practice can make a huge difference to the child.
Final words from the webinar participants
There are many ways we can support positive transitions … many of which come from having quality relationships. We asked webinar participants for their thoughts about what supports positive transitions.
- Collaborative relationships between parent, child and educators
- Providing enough time to transition. No rush
- Predictable routines from arrival until the end of the day
- Flexibility if things work out differently than planned
- Consistent and familiar educators present to welcome children and families.
This blog was originally posted on Shared Thinking.