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"Helping Your Child Thrive: Navigating Transitions with Positive Parenting Strategies"

Updated: Feb 19

Now close your eyes and imagine… well don’t close your eyes as you won’t be able to read but… imagine

You’ve been in a job for a year everything is going well but suddenly your boss leaves and is replaced with someone new. Someone who like things done an unusual way, has different rules and expectations of how you work.

How does that make you feel? Does it make you feel anxious?

This is what we put our children through every year, or rather schools do. Your child starts school either just finishing nursery, or being looked after by parents, grandparents etc. where they have built up a relationship with all the staff, know the routine, learnt some expectations (keeping it real, children will not know them all at that age) and feel safe and secure. All of a sudden, they have to wear a school uniform and be in a completely new setting with completely new adults and completely new expectations!!

Its an anxiety ridden experience! Now I will say this, the transition from pre-school to primary is excellent. Your child probably had 1-2 weeks of going in for playdays, the teacher probably visited you and your child at home, it was a gradual thing. But it stops there!

Transition for the rest of the time when your child is at school is generally shorter, less impactful, a token morning in another class at the end of the year probably just after Sports day and all the other end of year activities (plays and assemblies etc.) where the teacher talks so fast, to fit in everything, they haven’t a clue what has taken place and then that’s it.

Come September their old teacher and staff in the classroom are not there and they are faced with these new people, that they have no relationship with or clue on how to please.

A good Transition is so important, and it is important for many reasons, let me explain by cleverly placed bullet points…

  • Focus on Children feeling Safe and Secure in their unfamiliar environment.

Children need to feel safe in the environment, especially those with additional needs going from the familiar to the unfamiliar is a tricky thing to navigate and can impact on a child’s mental wellbeing.

Yes, it is something we do all the time as adults, we leave jobs and get another, we attend meetings in new buildings and have to navigate around various locations and we deal with it, there’s anxiety but we have learnt ways of coping.

Dealing with change is a life skill and a key area of development so if we don’t teach our children the proper way to cope how will they grow up to accept it's just part of life?

1. KNOWING THE EXPECTATIONS – how can you expect a child to feel safe if they don’t know the expectations of behaviours or when to listen, when to be quiet and when to be loud.

2. Knowing how to get to and from the classroom, or how to get to the toilet.

3. Having someone in the class they can speak to about anxieties they may have, at least for the first few weeks, without the fear of being told off if it is in the middle of a lesson.

4. Having some of the children’s artwork up in the class when they start in September could help as it is something familiar to them, something they have created and something the new teacher and they have in common.

5. Thinking about seating in the class. If a child gets easily distracted, have visual or hearing impairments or needs that reminder not to distract or talk to other peers in lesson times. They may need to go at the front of class. This is where it’s important for…

6. Promote friendships. The children all know their peers, it is their comfort zone. They will be all transitioning at the same time, and all have different experiences. Allow them time to talk about their worries and ask questions. A good practice is to assign “buddies” and have designated “buddy time” to talk about how they are feeling. It doesn’t have to be a long time – 5 minutes at the start or end of the day would be perfect.

  • Effective communication between adults.

At the end of year, a school report is generally issued with how your child has progressed throughout the year. It will also have on their levels and these all should be passed to the next teacher, so they are able to build on that progress but sometimes what is overlooked is a conversation.

A conversation needs to be taking place on personalities, friendships how best to effectively deal with certain children. Afterall the previous teacher has had them for a full year. They are the best people to tell the next teacher about the children in their care. The reason I say they are the best person, and not parents is because children react and behave differently to when they are at home and in school.

Done well this can help strengthen and support your child’s well-being and learning and can lead to a child being supported fully, rather than learning about it as they go.

  • Involve families

Family members know their children, they know what they are like at their best and how they react at their lowest points. Yes, children behave differently in a school setting but the anxieties and stress that they bring home and display openly is something you should tell the school.

They are bringing the anxieties and stress home and taking it out on you as YOU are there safe space!

It is important for you to be open and discuss these anxieties so you can inform the teacher. If left to their own devices, it could have an impact on their learning even their behaviour as well.

It is a good idea to have a meet the teacher afternoon or meeting with each of the parents. Yes, it takes time but remember a good transition can make all the difference.


1) Clear communication from school to home.

2) A few transition periods – not just a morning or an afternoon as that is too short a period for your child to start building connections and feeling safe and secure.

3) Meet the teacher for adults. – this could include a “tell me about your child” section or questionnaire and an information pack. This could contain expectations, rules, and an idea of what your child will be learning.

4) Extra meetings for those with additional needs (physical, mental, behavioural, and emotional)

5) An age-related transition booklet for your child to bring home and look at during summer.

Transition booklets usually contains photos of the child their new teacher and the staff in their classroom. It should have some information linked to the child that will make them excited or happy to return to school.

6) Discussions between you and your child about how they are feeling, this can then be passed on to their teacher.


1. Return to school routines a week before school starts. Probably the hardest adjustments for families is adjusting to early bedtimes and early mornings, but helping children return to a normal sleep schedule at least a week before school will help ease that first day of school when they are already use to the routine.

2. Review school rules and schedules. Go over after school rules to make sure the children remember what is expected. Knowing what to expect can ease a great deal of frustration and stress. Make sure everyone is on the same page by having a family planner or schedule. Children will feel less stressed when they know ahead of time what the day/week looks like.

3. Get school supplies. Spend some time making sure their school supplies are in order. Give your child as much control over their school supplies, backpack, and sports kits as possible. Empower your children to choose the things that they feel comfortable with and excited about. Yes, they want the same backpack as every other child, or they want the one with a skull emblazoned on the front but is it worth fighting over? Trust me it’ll be worth it to make the back-to-school transition less stressful and more fun!

4. Attend any meet the teacher meetings and orientation days. Most schools typically offer “meet the teacher” sessions for parents at the end of the year, which is a great time to meet your child’s teacher and familiarize yourself with their classroom. This can help empower families to feel confident in supporting both the teacher and their child for school year.

5. Get organized. Create places for backpacks, lunch boxes, and school papers to be kept. Mark important dates on the schedule/planner and use this on a regular basis, check it each day after tea to prepare for the next day.

6. Talk about any concerns. If your child has reservations about going back to school, talk them over. In an open and honest way. Answer any questions they might have about starting the next year. Sometimes children will feel anxious over what seems like insignificant issues to you, however, it may be important to your child. If you are able to discover what concerns your child may have ahead of time, you will be able to soften his fears by helping him understand what to expect.

If you have any worries or concerns about your child's transition speak to the teachers involved.


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