December is almost over. This can mean excitement about new beginnings approaching, but also, feelings of sadness can take us by surprise.
Transitions happen every day and are best described as a period where we try to adapt to new circumstances, expectations, people, environments or routines. Using our existing knowledge and experiences, we make predictions about what the change might be like, and how we might react. We then build strategies to help us adjust and cope.
Children don’t often have as much prior knowledge or experience to draw on which can make any change more challenging.
However, transitions are frequent occurrences for children, saying goodbye in the morning, stopping one activity to start another and moving rooms.
Early learning services to provide opportunities for children to experience positive relationships which can help support everyone through transitions. Positive relationships benefit mental health and wellbeing and are protective factors in a child’s life.
Imagine a positive relationship in action. What do you think of: Warm greetings, happy times, caring and comforting each other, sharing news and stories?
Did you think about how we farewell each other?
People are farewelled every day: some for a brief period of time, others for longer and others—forever. Farewells probably occur as often as greetings but do we always put the same energy into farewelling as we do in welcoming? Should we?
Some goodbyes feel more significant than others and at this time of the year, there are many. Children and families are transitioning within early learning services or leaving to start in other locations. Often staff members are also experiencing similar transitions too, with some leaving or taking on new roles.
How do we do it meaningfully?
A list of meaningful farewells is potentially endless. What you do will be guided by the context, capacity and creativity of your learning community. Successful transitions are more about positive relationships than perfect procedures. By practising small transitions regularly we create opportunities for children to learn to cope with bigger changes—particularly those likely to disrupt established social networks.
In terms of positive relationships, remember the right kind of goodbye can communicate to people that they belong and matter, just as much as a great hello does. Ultimately, how you farewell need not be an extravagant fanfare.
All people need is to be left with a memory where, in the words of the great Dr Suess, they ‘don’t cry because it’s over [but] smile because it happened’.
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