Efficient Transitions in Early Years

The conventional perception of transition is that it is an occasion for change, and change is difficult. Most people would concur that change can be challenging if it is not anticipated and managed correctly.

Children play with a teacher
Photo by Marisa Howenstine on Unsplash

Think of a job you enjoy, where the coworkers are kind, and the policies, procedures, and expectations are all obvious to you. Then, imagine yourself moving to a new office. You could have been there once to have a look around, but by the time you started working there, you had likely forgotten much of the information that had been imparted to you.

There are many new individuals to meet and learn about and different expectations, tools, and standards. Therefore, it's realistic to anticipate that your productivity will likely decline over the first few weeks while you get used to your new position since you might feel a little overwhelmed and occasionally incompetent.

Imagine how a young kid would feel in this situation as they would mainly depend on the people in their immediate environment for a sense of safety and security but also without the knowledge or self-assurance necessary to deal with significant changes in their life.

In light of this, it is paradoxical that there may be more transitions as kids progress through the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) than at any other point in the educational process. For example, before turning five, a kid could go from their home to a childminder, then to a playgroup, then into the nursery, and lastly into school.

These transitions must be carefully managed because, if they are not, they may be highly confusing, cause anxiety, and inhibit kids from participating quickly and fully in the available learning opportunities. As a result, schools and other settings should give full attention to transitions, which should be prepared with each student's requirements in mind. Gradual change will help students gain confidence and resilience, making transitions easier to make rather than more difficult.

Each Child Is Different

Youngsters will adjust to school faster and more easily the more confident they are. However, it is also important to remember that the more defenseless and disadvantaged a kid is, the harder it will be for them to fit in with new people and environments, which will hinder their ability to interact with and learn from their environment.

The fact that there is a 17% disparity between poor children and their better-off classmates at the conclusion of the EYFS may be partly attributed to this process of continual change and their lack of resilience to deal with it.

On the other hand, aren't there already transition programs in place? The nationwide transformation is well underway, and kids are getting ready to transfer to new environments or schools. However, is it enough?

Maybe for some people, it is, and there is undoubtedly a lot of good practice out there, but is enough being done to help the most vulnerable kids who unquestionably require a longer and more progressive approach to develop their confidence and self-esteem? One of the primary recommendations of the Hundred Review (2017)
concerns transition and supports the idea that it was more about an alignment of practice than an event:

This should be seen as a process that emphasizes continuity rather than a single event to achieve an effective transition into YR (Reception Year).

The following four EYFS guiding concepts might be helpful when making plans:

A Unique Child

Recognize that each child is unique; some will require more assistance than others to complete changes successfully.

Positive Connections

Smoother transitions are made possible by all adults working together; professionals, parents, and caregivers must all be aware of how a shift may affect children. In addition, engaging parents as active participants in the process must be a priority.

Enable Environment

Putting in the effort and time to coordinate practice so that the environments are comparable in terms of the services provided and the expectations.

Children Acquire Knowledge in Various Ways And at Various Rates

Consider the child's holistic requirements in relation to all elements of care and education.

Achievement for All Sheffield Transition Project

The Achievement for All Sheffield Transition Project aimed to investigate the problems with transition and determine what may be done to improve it. In order to determine what they were doing effectively and how they could enhance the trip for kids and families, two schools and four feeder preschools collaborated.

The transition process was approached with greater concentration and consistency as a result of the partnerships between the schools and their feeder nurseries being strengthened.

In order to ensure the most significant outcomes for all students, there is now strong consensus across clusters that the transition process must be continuous throughout the year and regarded as an alignment of practice rather than a summer term event.

Children now transition from setting to school smoothly through the EYFS, assisted by people who are aware of and sensitive to their needs and have a far better start to their academic careers.

At the Every Child Included in Education conference hosted by Achievement for All on October 17 at Newbury Racecourse, you may learn more about managing transitions in the early years successfully. June O'Sullivan MBE, Chief Executive of the London Early Years Foundation, will be one of the keynote speakers (LEYF). Among many others include Thelma Walker MP, a member of the Education Select Committee, and Anne Longfield OBE, the Children's Commissioner for England.