To facilitate children experience a smooth transition, be it from home to preschool, preschool to kindergarten or kindergarten to primary school, educators and administers can adopt some tried-and-tested strategies that promote effective transition.
Here are nine of them.
In this article:
- Modify daily schedule & routine of the child’s family
- Escort them to the classroom
- Plan the day well ahead
- Help them understand instructions
- Handhold them
- Introduce them to games
- Allocate adequate time for Developmentally Appropriate Activities (DAP)
- Narrate stories
- Take notes
1. Modify Daily Schedule & Routine of The Child’s Family
Transition being a very brief phase, one of the first things educators should look into is the child’s family’s daily schedule and routines, and assist them customise it to help their child’s transition phase effectively.
One of the simplest ways to customise the day is to help parents identify schedules and routines which are either longer than or not necessary at all; and can therefore be either modified or completely eliminated.
Another way to help them is to make sure that the schedules are consistent across the working week, therefore helping them to make it easier to predict the sequence of each day.
Most important of all, educators can also guide parents how to parent their child during transition.
2. Escort Them to the Classroom
Planning the movement of children is strategic in nature and is therefore important – especially during the first few days and weeks of transition. As children enter school, teachers can wait at the entrance to welcome their wards, wish them with a smile as they enter, and escort them into the classroom.
While walking them to the classroom, just asking “How are you?” or “Did you have your breakfast” can be a great feel-good factor for the child, as he/she will feel very cared for. Most of all, it will make the child not feel isolated or left alone like a stranger in the new environment.
Escorting children to the classroom is considered as one of the most effective strategies to support transitions, especially from home to preschool, as this is the first transition a child goes through in life.
3. Plan The Day Well Ahead
It is normal and natural that children have to go through some wait time in between classroom interactions, when moving from one activity to another.
During the wait time, they can be engaged by giving them instructions for the next activity, or by being introduced to certain materials that they need to make use of during to the next activity; so that they can seamlessly transition from one activity to another.
Keep Materials Ready
Materials required for the first activity and the subsequent activities should always be kept ready well ahead of the time of the activity. This can be done either by the end of the previous day or before the start of the new day.
It is natural for young children can get distracted easily and lose focus and attention. It therefore becomes crucial that the materials are ready well ahead, especially those that are needed post the first activity; as it ensures that children do not lose their flow of learning, focus and momentum that they have gained from the first activity.
4. Help Them Understand Instructions
This is an aspect that many if not most educators unfortunately don’t dwell on enough. Even in adults, the ability to understand instructions varies from one person to another. It therefore becomes an absolute necessity that extra effort is taken to ensure that kids have understood the instructions given to them.
Use Visual Cues
Each child is different. Some children are better at receiving information visually than through auditory cues. When the time is over for an activity, bright flash cards, picture cards and even physical action can be used to let them know that it is time to wind up the activity and prepare for the next.
Use Other Methods
Kids being kids, they need anchors for them to know and understand that an activity is coming to an end and/or they are about to enter/have entered a new activity.
Different methods like an energetic music, a peppy song, some physical signal, cues or gestures, or even predictable noises can be used as an anchor to signal the transition from one activity to another.
Picking up the toys or play materials of all the children after a game or activity is a huge task if it were to be done by one person. But since the task can be carried out by the children themselves, a “Clean Up Song” or “Clean Up Musical” can be sung or played to let them know it is time to pick up their toys/materials and keep them back where they belong.
This is a great way to introduce them to the importance of taking responsibility of a task, being organised, and teach them the concept of “A place for everything. And everything in its place.”
5. Handhold Them
Children most often do not know the schedule for the day and therefore don’t have a clue about how the day will unfold, which can make them feel ‘left in the dark’. In spite of the fact that children enjoy activities, things can often get confusing if not difficult, as they don’t know what they are supposed to do in between two activities.
For example, in a new environment, a child may not know how to perform even normal tasks in between two activities. It can be things as simple as the process/steps involved in washing hands or cleaning themselves up.
That’s why it is important that the teacher handholds and teaches the child, for the first few days, the norms or steps that need to be followed. After a couple of weeks, they will need very less or no supervision.
6. Introduce Them to Games
The importance and the many advantages of play way method of teaching during early childhood can’t be emphasised enough.
Introducing games into the daily schedule is by far one of the best ways to help children transition, in general, and also to transition from one activity to another. Pretend play and “Simon Says” are examples of the kid of games that can be introduced.
7. Allocate Adequate Time for Developmentally Appropriate Activities (DAP)
One of the most fundamental yet a critical thing to do is to design a schedule that reduces the duration of the transition phase. In line with the same, the first and foremost thing to do is to increase the time children spend in developmentally appropriate activities.
Activities that are appropriate for development can help in reducing tantrum behaviours in children. Schedules need to be designed specifically for a particular activity, so that children do not waste time on other activities and focus only on the activity on hand.
8. Narrate Stories
Stories are a powerful tool to communicate a message, especially to children, and make them remember the learning derived from it. One of the best ways to do it is to narrate stories about the transitional experiences of children from the earlier batches.
After the narration, educators can encourage children to ask questions and express their thoughts and/or concerns related to the story narrated and if they are having similar experiences in the new environment they are currently in.
This simple two-way communication exercise helps provide both the children and the educators an opportunity to discuss about the challenges and solve them in a smooth manner.
9. Take Notes
Educators should always keep an eye on children who are in need of extra help and provide them with the same adequately, as and when they need them.
That’s why it becomes crucial that educators observe each child closely and make notes of the challenges he/she is facing, if any, which is reflected through his or her behaviour, both within and outside the classroom.
Taking notes not only helps educators to evaluate the transitional experiences of each of their wards, it can also help plan a schedule that can eliminate the challenges they currently face. Most of all, it can also help to potentially thwart any challenge(s) that they may face later.
While children, from the developmental stand point, are ready to enter from home to preschool or preschool to primary school, they will nevertheless require help, care and support during transition.
That is why it is important that parents, educators and school administration work together in tandem. A strategic approach to planning and a sincere commitment from all the stakeholders can go a long way to help children to transition seamlessly from one environment to another.