Starting school

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By Nicki Allman

A focus on transition from one place of learning to another in the Early Years Foundation Stage.

First day at school

This new phase in a child’s life is exciting but scary for many parents. What might we be able to do to ease the transition into this new period of their educational journey? During this phase a child is growing up, which can lead to anxiety for both child and parent if not dealt with appropriately. However, if the transition is handled with care, sensitivity and lots of communication, then it can set a child on the right track of learning for the whole of their schooling.

Children can move to different learning environments in their Early Years development. A child can move from a pre-school setting such as a standalone nursery or playgroup to a school reception unit. Or it may be from a childminder to a school where there is an on-site nursery and reception unit. Children may even attend standalone Early Years units before starting school in Year 1. Wherever the child has come from, positive and effective transition is vital to ensuring that the child settles quickly and builds up relationships with both adults and children to enable continued progress in their development.

Even the most confident and settled child can have moments of anxiety and fear about starting something new. An important element to ensuring that this transitional period of a child’s life is a success, whatever setting they are coming from, is building up relationships with the essential people they will come across. This can be done in a myriad of ways.


Effective communication

This is essential and must take the form of both written and verbal communication.

Written communication

A written welcome letter to parents shows that the school or EY setting values everyone. It is important to note that some parents may not have been secured a place at their first or second-choice school or setting so communication is very important to ensure that parents in this group are felt listened to from the outset.

  • Record keeping – Any written record of a child should be shared from the old setting to the new. This is vital for any child, but more so if a child has a particular need. Outside agencies (e.g. speech therapists) may have been working with a child and this is important to note as it will indicate what may need to be continued. Sometimes records can be treated with suspicion between settings, but it is essential that these are taken note of. The previous setting may have worked with the child for some time and so they will know them very well.
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