Transitions and Settling-in Sessions
September is approaching fast and, with it comes the season for change and transitions. This is especially for children going to nursery for the first time, starting school, or even moving rooms within the same setting.
Lots of transitions and changes in routines will happen in the next couple of weeks which usually come hand in hand with a mixture of feelings such as excitement, happiness, fear, apprehension, and insecurities, just to mention a few.
Transitions bring change which usually shakes our world in one way or another. We humans are creatures of habit and our brains like predictability, consistency, and structure. How extremely difficult is it to leave your baby, whom you have been nurturing since birth, under the care of someone else? What about the terrible guilt that comes when it is time to come back to work and, somehow, you are looking forward to it?
By managing the transition carefully, we ease the process of adjustment, reassuring both children and their families. We consider some important elements that are:
Effective transition is a process rather than an event.
And, it should be planned as such. Some examples of the process are parents coming for viewings of the setting prior to the starting date, information sharing about the child by filling in settling-in documents, joining the key person during settling-in sessions, and talking to children about what the new routine will look like, preparing children for transitions by using books, role play or outing opportunities.
Environments and routines that encourage shared endeavor or special time in small key groups are invaluable for children building new friendships and developing a sense of security and belonging when following a transition. Children must feel safe and secure in order to continue to develop. A homely, stable environment is central to this sense of belonging.
The key person makes essential connections.
When children enter their new setting the task of providing continuity is made easier by a warm welcome from responsive and available practitioners. A child’s key person is the essential link between home and the new setting. It is vital in providing reassurance and creating close, supportive, ongoing relationships with families.
Last but not least, I would like to extend the settling-in process as part of building a strong partnership between parents and the setting from day one:
At Willows Pre-School, we have a key person and key buddy system in place. A key person is allocated to each child before they come to the nursery. It could be a good idea for you to check the website and show your child that key person’s photo. It is a way to start familiarising themselves with the new face and the new name. When the key person is away from the setting a key buddy will step in to be with your child.
We have two settling-in sessions.
- In the first session (1 hour) you will come with your child and go through the settling-in pack sharing information with the key person. We want to make sure to know your child as much as we can, such as your home routine, your family, your child’s likes and dislikes, allergies, dietary requirements, etc…The key person’s role will be to interact with the parents and the child as soon as they step in, to build the relationship and the bonding process.
- During the second session (4 hours), we encourage the parents to leave the child and say bye at the door. We are aware of the individual needs and the uniqueness of each child and parent. So, we are flexible and supportive if you need extra support. Our aim is to guide you throughout the whole process, you just need to let us know how you are feeling.
- During the first two weeks of settling in, we will use the app Famly every day of your child’s attendance to communicate your child’s well-being and progress to settling. We are sharing the food intake, nappy changes, sleep times, activities they have joined in with, and some photos. In the third week and beyond, messages will come at least once a week. Parents are encouraged to share information using this medium, so we continue building the partnership between family and setting.
- At around 6 weeks of the child being at nursery, the key person will prepare a settling-in report, which will be shared with you. This is the opportunity to share how the process has been, what observations and links have been made to the EYFS, and how everybody is feeling at that specific time.
Every settling-in process is unique for every child and family. We are happy to support, guide and encourage you during the whole process as we are fully aware it can be a challenging time for everybody involved.