How To Help A Child Who Struggles With Transition To School?

Transition to school is kind of a ceremony or an event marking an important milestone in the life of a child. In its own special way, it is in fact an important stage for the parents/family of the child too. This is why it becomes important for parents and teachers know how to help a child who struggles with transition to school.

In this article:

  1. How to help a child who struggles with transition to school?
  2. 4 ways how schools can be ready for a child’s smooth transition to school?

How to Help a Child Who Struggles with Transition to School?

According to a research study conducted by Marie Louise Hemmeter, Michaelene M. Ostrovsky and Robert M. Corso, difficulty in transition is common when children have communication related developmental delays, experience difficulties in communication, have social and emotional limitations, or even intellectual difficulties or disabilities.

All it takes to avoid a child go through struggles with transition, is a little bit of planning while considering the needs of the child, and the abilities of the child.

Depending on the child and the environment he or she is in, children having difficulty with transitions can manifest it in different ways. It can be in the form of resistance, avoidance, distractions or even meltdowns.

Usually, children who struggle with transition exhibit these reactions when they are overwhelmed by their emotions, which in turn leads to avoiding transition. It can also happen due to some relatively smaller reasons, like in instances when they are tired, hungry, bored, are not ready to begin an activity or even if they are not ready to end an activity.

One of the best ways educators can help children avoid difficulty in transition, is by making them feel cared for and supported, both at the start and the end of each day in school.

During activities in particular, educators should provide individualized attention for children to enable smooth transition for them.

Most important of all, educators must actively work with parents to curb the difficulty, especially during the initial days when children enter preschool. After that, working with them at least once or ideally twice a week will help.

In fact, a child’s struggle with transition can be addressed very effectively by collaborating with parents.

4 Ways How Schools Can Be Ready for a Child’s Smooth Transition to School?

1. Homely Environment

When children step into a school for the very first time in their lives, they almost immediately compare the school environment with their home.

This is why a school environment has to have a home-like ambience, which makes children feel secure and free of stress. It is always the school settings that should be modified to adapt to the needs of the children, and never the other way round.

2. Build Rapport

Needless to mention, educators must establish a good rapport with children and their parents, and develop it on an ongoing basis. The program planned should be such that children participate in activities with both small and large groups. This way, they will learn to interact with all the students of the same class.

3. Child-Friendly Environment

Ideally, the school create a child-friendly environment in such a way, that children look forward to come to school on their own, rather than being persuaded by their parents.

One of the most important things educators should always remember, is that a typical classroom has children having various needs, and they also come from a wide spectrum of social, economic and cultural backgrounds.

The learning environment and the teaching strategy has to therefore be adapted to the needs and interests across the cross-section of children.

4. Accommodate the Differently Abled

Most of all, schools should be made ready to welcome and accommodate all children, including those who are differently abled. And this should reflect in the form of physically-challenged-friendly indoor and outdoor environment, teaching strategies, schedules, programs/courses, study materials and student-teacher ratio.

According to the theory of Zone of Proximal Development, children exhibit their abilities and their extent of potential according to the conditions and situations that are facilitated and offered to them.

It is therefore expected that schools should provide all opportunities and services that children need, so that they can develop to their full potential.


When it comes to addressing the question “How to help a child who struggles with transitions?” educators and administrators need to fundamentally focus and work from the perspective of what the children need, rather from their perspective of what they can or want to provide.

Only then will they be able to help every child to avoid any potential struggle with transition, and acquire knowledge and develop skills which they require for their further growth.

Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.