Transitions, the changes from one situation to another, play an important role in shaping a child’s social, emotional and academic growth. They can be as small as finishing an activity or routine or bigger, like toilet training, starting preschool or school. Transitions are also part of family life, for example, welcoming a new baby or moving house.
Many changes happen during the early childhood and school years. Children with developmental delay or disability may need some transition support to successfully navigate through these life stages. Being informed and ready with a plan and strategies that meet your child and family’s priorities can help.
As children grow, they start going to early childhood programs, playgroups and preschools. These experiences set the foundation for their learning journey and growing independence. Children also meet new people, visit new places and experience new routines, like drinking from a cup instead of a bottle.
Planning smooth transitions can help a child:
- Build on their existing knowledge and skills
- Create supportive, nurturing environments with familiar faces and routines
- Promote emotional well-being and a sense of security
- Foster a sense of belonging and promote positive social interactions.
Tips for good transitions
Plan for transitions well in advance
Talk with professionals such as teachers, therapists, support staff, and other relevant people in your child’s life to understand the process thoroughly. Discuss potential challenges and strategies to address them. Early planning and communication can help with success!
Visit new settings before the transition
These can be a preschool or school, public spaces like libraries, or children’s recreational activities that you are planning to attend. Familiarising your child with the new environment can help reduce anxiety and make the transition smoother. You can also create a social story about going to these places instead of planning a visit.
Encourage your child’s active participation
Involving them in decision making during the transition process (when appropriate) empowers them to voice their preferences and build their confidence about the changes.
Connect with other parents
Peer support from parents who have experienced similar transitions can offer valuable insights. They can provide practical tips, encouragement, resources and suggestions for workshops, and webinars that give you ideas and support.
Manage your emotions
As a parent, it’s natural to have mixed emotions during transitions. Acknowledge your feelings and seek support from friends, family, or counselors if needed. A positive outlook can have a significant impact on your child’s emotional well-being and help them feel more secure during the process.
Create visual schedules
Many children benefit from visual cues that outline the steps of the transition. Include pictures or symbols to represent the activity, such as visiting a new school or a new routine. Visual schedules can provide reassurance and a sense of predictability for your child.
Encourage friendships and be an advocate
Help your child build social connections before the transition. For example, look for opportunities to meet future classmates or peers, such as a buddy program at school. As an advocate, your active involvement ensures that your child receives the necessary assistance for a smooth transition.
Acknowledge and celebrate your child’s accomplishments during the transition. Whether it’s a successful visit to the new school or a positive interaction with a new friend, recognising these achievements boosts their confidence and reinforces their ability to handle change.
Planning smooth transitions creates a supportive and inclusive environment where children can flourish during their early childhood and school-age years.