The transition from home to school environment, is based on the saying,
“Give them wings, and let them fly ….”
The first weeks when a child is settling into an early years setting, is a time of crucial importance. This period will lay the foundation on which all future learning is based and help in the holistic / overall development of the child. All children are individuals and while some will adjust fairly easily to the new environment and routines, others will take a little longer to feel comfortable and secure. It is natural for a young child to feel anxious and although it can be difficult, separation anxiety is a normal stage of development. With understanding and the use of effective coping strategies, we as educators can help ease the process.
It is our sincere endeavor as educators, to ensure a smooth transition and make the settling process as easy as possible for child and the parent.
A happy child learns best…….
Listed below, are some techniques adopted in the “settling process”, that are commonly used by early childhood educators. The following have been ascertained, to be the most effective ways, to provide a smooth transition for all children.
The suggested practices, are in random order of importance.
- Workshops / briefing / involving parents to understand the concept of ‘separation’ anxiety and seek their support.
- Talking about the routines and activities so as to familiarize the children.
- A confident, calm, cheerful, empathy attitude.
- No false promises, threats as emotionally “blackmail” language to pacify a crying child.
- Use of appropriate transitional activities.
- Use of rhythm and rhyme, music which clearly has cathartic benefits.
- Facilitating conversation through “show and tell objects”- wherein any object of interest to a child (maybe encouraged to be brought by the child to the classroom), – thus involving the child in conversation.
- Alert, spontaneous direction of attention towards any object, concept, phenomena that peeks the attention of the child, in an attempt to provide suitable distraction.
- Resist the urge to say “M”- mama word in class e.g “don’t worry, mama will be back “. Or even random associations like in a poem “mama duck said…”, will elicit tears!
- The use of sand play / water play as cathartic techniques.
- Delaying goodbye time as the end, by encouraging children to first help clear up. “It’s time to put the creys away….”
- Saying bye to every person in the school. So as to inadvertently increase / delay the time spent at school.
- The use of pictures / story – telling / impromptu number games and preferred activities based on the child’s interests.
- The use of reward – reinforcement equipment like simple pop – up puzzles, stackers, toys, meow toys, etc that work as immediate attention getters ( even if brief / momentary)
- Detailed orientation programs with parents, to help deal with their own feelings, emotions and anxiety.
- Encourage play – dates amongst children in the same group, so as to increase familiarity and a level of comfort.
- Communicating in the language that is familiar (even if it’s the mother tongue or any other) which the child is able to understand.
- Handover of children upon arrival, needs to be a reassuring, brief process and parents should leave immediately.
- The use of paints, colors, easel art, various fun sensory activities.
Initially follow a plan / similar routine for each day that may vary and be altered, as one goes along.
- Provide a consistent pattern for the day.
- Most important, the process is guided by a gradual building up of the length of time that the child spends at the center. Thus, initiate the practice of separation wherein the time period away from the care giver is brief periods and increased gradually.
The above information has been compiled, after research and extensive deliberation with early childhood educators, teachers, & experts.
We, at team LIFE would be delighted to hear from you and look forward to your active involvement, in our publication.