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The end of year is approaching (phew!). You may already know which class/ school you will be teaching in. Nadine Finlay has some handy hints on how to make transition as easy and stress-free as possible for pupils and teachers.

This has always been an area of interest to me as I am concerned about the mental wellbeing of the children. They are moving from one teacher, classroom and routine that they know intricately, to a whole new one overnight.  In worst case situations children have no handover, they are merely introduced to their new teacher in a whole school assembly, with a quick wave. I cannot bare this. How does that classify as a transition?

It has become a mission of mine to ensure that the children I work with have the opportunity to develop strong links with their next teacher.
Talking is Good!

  • Talking with your colleagues to create a plan of action and what would work for everyone is the starting point. It’s no good having only one member of staff attempting a well round transition, it must be a team effort.
  • Talking to the children about what will be happening in the future helps them to understand and mentally prepare for the changes that are going to happen. Many children need routine and struggle when their routine is altered, so I’ve found that having discussions prior to the event helps them to navigate the transition.
  • Talking to parents about what is going to be happening enables them to have conversations with their child and ease any anxiety but this also means that if they have any worries themselves, they are able to speak to you about it.

When I worked as an EYFS lead I would visit each of the three feeder nurseries every week, for the whole year. I used the assembly time slots to nip out to them and worked with the pre-school group, introducing their next phoneme, which the nursery staff would then develop and build upon throughout that week, ready for me to introduce the next one the following week. This allowed me the opportunity to also share teaching methods and ensure there was a consistent baseline of phonics that had been taught prior to the children joining Reception in September. By the time the children joined the Reception class, I knew them and their families incredibly well and this eased their settling in period immensely.

Practice makes perfect

Have a few dry runs. Carrying out weekly events where the children get to spend time with their new teacher really helps them to prepare. I try to run bitesize transitions for the Summer term where the children all move at once, usually for 30 minutes at the end of the day on a Friday. This provides

  • The children with a chance to get to know me
  • The children get to know the classroom that they will be in
  • I learn the children’s names
  • I can access the children socially and academically, making seating plans and preparation for September lessons significantly easier
  • When the current class teacher has a verbal handover with me, I am able to relate to the child that they are talking about
  • The children create a piece of work with me, that I use as a wall display for when they start back in September

Make transition fun for everyone!

Running a mini-project enables the children to feel that they are learning something at their new year group level, especially if it contains skills that they wouldn’t necessarily get to learn and explore within their current year group. I always like to have a rich text that we focus on as the basis and then add in some computing, art work and a few pieces of written work. All of which creates a great wall display to have up, ready for the first day back in September.

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The author

Nadine has worked with children for 17 years having originally trained as an International Montessori Directress and then moving into state schools by completing a GTP. Nadine is passionate about making the most out of every day, either at school or with her two young children. She has previously written articles that have been published in various magazines including the TES.

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