An Adeona Family Podcast: An Early Childhood Journey
Episode 14: The Importance of Transitions in Early Childhood
When we’re in a new environment, we never feel as confident to be who we are. Oftentimes we feel nervous or feel like we lack a sense of belonging and as a result it can take us a while to warm up and engage in what’s going on.
That’s why when working with children during transitions, we want to ensure that period of change is as smooth and comfortable for them as possible, so they can feel a sense of belonging in their new environment. Our goal is to give children a sense of agency so they become confident contributors within their space.
In this episode of the Adeona Family Podcast, Tracy and Zoe discuss the importance of smooth transitions for children in different contexts, particularly from home to care, between different rooms within the childcare service, and eventually from childcare to school. They emphasise the significance of creating a sense of belonging, safety, and security for the children during these transitions. They outline the steps taken at Adeona’s early childhood education centres to facilitate smooth transitions, such as orientation visits, building relationships between families and educators, and providing support through the process. They also touch upon the importance of engaging with schools and preparing children for the transition to school from childcare, emphasising qualities like resilience, social skills, and the ability to seek help as key indicators of school readiness.
They discuss the use of various tools such as the Reflection of Learning document, Transition Statements, and engaging with schools to ensure that the child’s needs and strengths are effectively communicated during the transition. This episode emphasises the significance of these transitions for both the children and their families, and highlights the various ways Adeona supports families throughout this process. They underscore the importance of open communication between educators and families to ensure a successful transition.
What are transitions in childcare?
The physical movement from one space to another. This can be transitioning into care for the first time from the home environment, transitioning from one early childcare room up into the next room, as well as transitioning from early childhood education into school.
Why are transition times important in the early years?
Safely navigating transitions in the early years is crucial to a child’s healthy development and wellbeing and can lay the foundation for a future of learning and better outcomes. Likewise, children are able to grow, develop, and learn best when they are feeling safe, secure, and a sense of belonging.
Key takeaways from this episode:
- Adeona’s transition process, the resources we provide, and how we ensure both parent and child are comfortable
- Transitions between rooms
- Transitions from childcare to school environment & how we work with local schools to aid in that transition
- Our approach to school readiness
- How transition statements are prepared and how they work
We’d love to hear from you! If you have any feedback, suggestions or questions about anything we discussed in this episode, please feel free to reach out – email@example.com.
Our Early Childhood Education Centres
Hello, Tracy. Thank you, everyone for joining us on our podcast today. Before we get started, I just really like to acknowledge the land that Tracy and I are meeting you on today, which is the land of the Yuggera and Tuurbal people. And we’d really like to acknowledge the custodians of the land, and we’d like to acknowledge their leaders past, present and emerging. So today, Tracy, our podcast is going to be on transitions. Now for people who don’t quite understand what that means, would you like to explain what we are talking about when we talk about transitions?
Sure. So when we’re talking about transitions, we are meaning the physical movement from one space to another. So that would be transitioning into care for the first time from the home environment, it would be transitioning from one room up into the next room, and then transitioning on to school. Transition into the service and transition to the school are probably the two ones that families probably talk about and hear about the most. But any change in a child’s life is significant and any way that we can make that easier, and help the child to adapt is obviously going to be of great benefit to everybody.
And for us over the period of time that children are with us, it does actually end up being quite a lot of change for someone who is so little. So we put a lot of value into doing really quality transitions. Tracy, would you like to talk a little bit about why that might be important?
It’s really important, because as we’ve discussed on numerous podcasts before, it’s really important because we know that children are able to grow and develop and learn best when they are feeling a sense of belonging where they’re feeling safe, and they’re feeling secure. If you think about any time that you’ve been in a new environment, a new school, a new job, even just a new group of friends at a party that you don’t really know that well, you can’t say that you’re feeling particularly confident to be who you are. But you might not have that sense of belonging, you’re a little bit nervous. And as such, it can take you a little while to warm up and to engage in what’s going on. So what we want to work with when we’re working with children and transitions is to make that as smooth and to make them feel as comfortable as possible to make them feel like they belong in the environment that they’re in, they have agency in that environment, and that they can contribute to that environment.
Yeah, and I think we may have mentioned this in a podcast previously, but I’m just going to reiterate it in case we haven’t. Also, what is also really important, especially for really, really young children is around brain development and transitions, because we want to reduce stress levels as much as possible. And so to do that, making the new space and new people as familiar as possible is extremely helpful. Yes, absolutely. It is. So Tracy, I thought it might be great to go through our transition process here at Adeona. We have really thought this through over many years and refined our procedure around what we do to make it as rich as possible. So would you like to go through all the parts of our transitions.
So the transition into the service is probably one of the bigger ones for both families and children. Especially if the child has never been in care away from home before. So when we worked on our transitions, or starting families in the service, we really tried to think about everybody’s needs, to think what did the families need to feel comfortable? Because that’s really, really important. What does the child need to feel comfortable? And what do our educators need from the family so that they know the best way to build a relationship and to care for that child. So when you come to Adeona, the first thing we’ll do is give you a centre tour. I think as a parent, it’s really important when you’re looking to enrol your child into a service, that you do the tour and you get a vibe for the centre. You know everyone’s centre can look great on a website. It’s not until you get into the service that you can feel whether it’s the right service for you because services differ greatly in their philosophies and the way of doing things and their interactions with children. So at Adeona we’ll invite you to come in to the service if you like what you see, we invite you to put your name down on the waitlist. Then when you are accepted into the service, we have quite a lengthy enrolment process where we’ll ask you every question for our enrolment form. But the all that information helps us so that we can create the best curriculum and the best care for your child and for your family and keep everybody safe. So that would be your orientation visit. On your orientation visit we’ll also introduce you to educators, we’ll talk you through key policies and procedures, let you know where you can find things and set up things such as Storypark profiles, access to Kidsoft, all those sorts of things. We then invite the family to come in for a minimum of five orientation visits if your child is under three, and a minimum of three orientation visits, if your child is over three, obviously, families can choose to do more than that. But we do have a requirement that is no less than those numbers, simply because we need that time to get to know you and your child as educators, and your child needs to be in a new environment with somebody they feel safe with. And one half an hour visit isn’t going to do that. Quite often you’ll find that children will be quite confident in the first couple of weeks of care. And then then they realize that this is happening every day, and the novelty of the new toys and the new environment have worn off, that’s when some of that weariness can come back. So that’s why we really want parents to take their time, you know, being in the service with their child. When you come in for those orientation of visits, we ask that families engage in what we call a care moment, which I know we’ve also discussed in a previous podcast, but I’ll just quickly touch on them. So a care moment is things like engaging in a nappy change or a sleep time, a meal time, letting your child go off and explore, those sorts of things. So that our educators can observe how that interaction happens with their primary caregiver, the parent, as well as introducing the child to spaces such as the toileting or the nappy changing space with a familiar adult that they feel comfortable with before they are left with us educators to do that. During those visits as well, educators will talk to families, get any other information they need and start to build that relationship. We understand that your child is coming into an early education setting generally, because families are working and they’re busy. So after this communication might be more over the phone or via email. So it’s really valuable time for families and educators to get to know each other and children, of course. We also have, for our younger children, starting at the service for the first time – so under threes – we invite them to come in for a weekend orientation session. So that generally happens early in the year when we have our main big intake for the new year. And we invite families to come in and spend an hour or two just with a group of maybe four other children and their educators. This way it gives the children time to explore the environment without all the other children there. It can get a little hectic with eight other children in there sometimes when it’s the normal weekday. So on the weekend, they have to place themselves, there’s less children, there’s less going on. The educator also has more availability to talk to families and families can talk to each other and start to build that sense of community.
Yeah, so we’ve really found that the weekend visits also help in that, it’s like aged children, so parents get a better sense of the cohort of children their child will be with because when they come in for the weekday visits, obviously the children are quite a bit older. But the feedback we get from families is they actually really love just having that connection with some other families that will be in the space as well. I think sometimes in our busy lives, parenting can be a little bit lonely. So they like to know it’s that starting to build that community within Adeona that they can see familiar families coming and going as well.
Yeah, absolutely. We also like at this point to give families some literature about things that our philosophy are based on, so that they can go and make sure that they have an understanding of why we do the things we do. And it’s why we put out things like this podcast too, to share the reasons why we engage in the practices we do at Adeona. And the final step in our transition is that a couple of weeks before the children start, we post out a letter, old fashioned snail mail to the families or to the children, they’re addressed to the children, welcoming them into the tribe, letting them know how excited we are to have them join us. It also includes a photo and a little bit of information about the educators that they’re going to be working with that year. And like a little poem, or maybe you know, some stickers or something that relates to some information in the letter, which I think just builds that sense of excitement and belonging and something to look forward to. So that’s pretty much a transition into our centre. Now obviously, as I said, some children, that will be enough and they will feel comfortable and hit the ground running. Other children, it will take longer, there will still be tears at drop off and all of those things and we will work through those with families and the child. But that is sort of our baseline transition into the service. Then from there we have transitions within the service. So we at Adeona have what we call tribes and each room has a tribe. Other services will have different names and different rooms. The whole reason we had tribes is big because we wanted to make it a bit of a ceremony moving from one room to another, and then marking their journey of growing throughout the service, I guess. But this is also a period of change, because staff or educators change between the rooms, the level of autonomy, and access to things changes for the child, and the environment changes, they’re physically in another room. While for most children, they will take this in their stride, we still do treat this quite, we put a lot of thought and reflection into what will work best for children and families. And probably the best thing, the first thing that we start to do when we start to think about these movements between the rooms is that we do try to make them minimal. So we try to make it that it only happens once every 12 months occasionally, for various reasons, something might happen with it, there is a bit of a mid year change. But that’s quite rare across our services, then, when we look at children moving into the next room or the next space, quite a lot of thought and reflection goes into that processes. So Zoe would you like to tell us a little bit about what happens in the level as a director of a service when you start to look at moving children and staff.
That is a very big job. We start that process well out from the end of the year. So for example, we’re currently in November. And we started looking at this at the end of September for here at Coorparoo. So that starts initially with us with allowing educators who will be working with the children the next year to go and visit that space, to start to build a relationship with those children who that might be new to them, because then they are able to help once we get to the point where we move the children to the new space. So we start with that, we send educators up to the other tribes where possible just to say hello, and hang out for half an hour or so maybe an hour, sometimes half a day, just depending on our capacity. And then from around mid October, we start to actually transition the children to the new spaces, we try to do it in small groups. So anywhere between, say three or four children through to maybe six or seven, depending on the age group. And they go with the familiar educator that will be following them through to the tribe for the next year. So as you can imagine, when you have quite a few children in a centre, it does take a long time to do that. And we do a minimum of three visits internally for the children as well. And we also sit down to identify the children that we think will require more visits than that. And we identify them fairly early, to make sure that they are getting more visits if we think they will need that. We also start to transition educators who are going to a new space, who are maybe not going to work with children, that all happens around that same time as well. But it takes a long time and we do it over an extended period of time because it’s better than cramming it into a small amount of time because the children then have time to process between each visit. So most children might get a visit every week or fortnight leading up to that end of year change.
Exactly. And it gives families time to talk about it with educators and also with their children and to share those stories between home and in the centre as well. Probably you’re saying that the physical transition starts for children in September. But I know that our service directors start working on it from July in terms of looking at what educators are going to stay in the room to support the new children coming in. And quite often, they might have a bit of an affinity for that age group and be quite knowledgeable working with those children of that age group. And so they may stay there to help guide other staff and help the room run smoothly. Other educators will move with the children because they’ve had a really strong relationship with those children. And sometimes too, as we all do in our jobs, we need a bit of a change a bit of a mix up, but a lot of thought and a lot of reflection goes into how educators move throughout the service, we really do try to have continuity between the rooms and so we it is always our endeavour to have at least one staff educator who has been in the tribe the year before move up with some children. So there is one at least one familiar face and one who will stay to pass on that knowledge that they have learned from the year previous. And also with that there also comes a lot of individual self reflection and critical reflection with staff when they’re speaking with centre directors about what they would like and what their goals are in terms of moving through the service as well. So there’s a lot of factors to take into consideration when planning where educators will move and where children will move for the following year. So once who’s moving where has been decided, and the children are doing their physical visits into new spaces or interactions with educators that they may be working with the next year. There’s also I guess, more behind the scenes action that happens between the educators where they’re sharing information, what sort of information would they be sharing with each other Zoe?
So what we do is we have something that we call the reflection of learning. And this is a document that we transfer between educators from year to year. And it’s similar to what we would look at in kindergarten as a transition statement, which we’ll talk about a little bit later. So this reflection of learning looks at the EYLF outcomes, the Early Years Learning Framework outcomes, and it’s a strength based document that we complete and we send out to families, and we also give to the educators in the new room to give them an idea of some of the urges that that child might be going through, some of the learning they might be going through and some ways to best support them as they transition from space to space. It is set out into those five key learning outcomes, so identity, wellbeing, connection, active learning, and communication. And that does, if you are familiar with the EYLF, it really does give an idea of the whole child. And we certainly don’t privilege one of those areas of learning more than the other because they are all extremely important.
And then also just information like medical conditions, any diagnosis, any support that the child might be accessing outside of the service will also be passed on during that time and any strategies that educators have developed throughout the year that seem to engage the child or work to help the child be able to regulate and feel safe and secure, those will also be passed on.
Yeah and a lot of those, it’s not just a physical document, either there is a lot of conversations that happen well out, because everyone knows that the children move typically as a cohort at the centre. And our educators know from around July which space they’re going to be in for the following year. They do start having those proactive conversations with each other and we have staff meetings leading up to that, we’ve already had two staff meetings where the team for next year has met and sat down and talked about some of these things, because of course, there’s always someone coming through with the children who knows them as well. So it is a very long process because we really emphasize the importance of these transitions, and giving them a lot of value.
Yeah, absolutely. And the last step in the transition is probably more symbolic than anything else. So in all of our tribes, the children wear different colour hats, we have the red tribe, the yellow tribe, blue tribe, and so they all have a different colour hat. So when their child is on their transition journey to one drive to another, they get to don the next colour of next tribes hat, which they do take some pride and joy in and then they get to keep that hat once their transition into the new tribe is complete. So it’s quite a nice little symbolic journey with them and then they take their yellow tribe hat with them at the end of the year when they’ve completed their Adeona journey.
Can I just add in there too, because this is something that we seem to come up with every year and we, you know, it’s something that we really realize is a thing now is that that last step into kindergarten, sometimes we have underestimated how much that does mean to the children. And also sometimes how much they take that on board is that final step in their Adeona journey. So quite often, interestingly, we get the most anxious children moving from our red tribe into our kindergarten tribe. And so we’ve done a lot of reflection on that and work around making sure the language that we’re using with our pre-kindies who are moving into kindy doesn’t add to that, because the children are already perceiving that as a big step in their journey and don’t really know what’s beyond that I think. So, in those early days of yellow tribe, we try to just make it as normalized as possible, rather than making a big hoo-ha about it being kindergarten and being moving off to school. We just try to take small steps rather than projecting into the next year.
But it is always funny that at the end of the year, the yellow tribe is certainly the leaders of the service, you can see them really stepping up and taking on that leadership role amongst the group. So yes, well, I guess that leads us nicely into our transitions into schools. And it’s certainly, at this time of year, that’s a big point of discussion with kindergarten families and even some of our red tribe families as they start to make decisions about what schools are going to see them and their children. So, sometimes when we discuss with families about transitions into schools, we’ll start getting the questions about what does my child need to be able to do to go to school and their school readiness questions. I think that we could probably do a whole other podcast about that, and we probably will at some stage. I just want to stress here, though, that school readiness in an Adeona context isn’t being able to write their name, or do simple math or cut on a straight line. Yes, there’s all things that we develop and practice through play as the children show interest in those skills. But they are certainly not the key indicators that we would discuss for a child being ready to transition to school. The things that we’re looking at is resilience. We’re looking at the ability to make friends, we’re looking at the ability to ask for help when they need help, being able to pay attention, to be able to engage in what’s been going on around them and respond to that, those sorts of things are the key signs that a child is ready and mature enough to progress to school. Obviously, if we have any concerns about those, those conversations start quite early in the year. I mean, you’d be well aware of it by this stage of the year. And of course, our educators are always open to discussing that with you should you as a parent have any concerns regarding that. So but once the child is ready to start their transition to school, there’s a couple of things that start to happen within the service. So things that your child may talk about, and that you will see happening in the service is that there’ll be a slight change in the curriculum. So there’ll be an increase in tasks such as, we’ll have a lot more containers and I have a lunch box day, we will ask them to come and open their own lunch box and stuff just so we can start practicing some of those skills. We might have a day where we invite them to come in and wear the uniform, it’s quite exciting to see everyone in their oversized uniforms and talking about where they’re going. We’ll ask families to put down what schools they’re going to and we might make a bit of a visual representation so that children can see what friends or what children they know are moving on to the same school as those, so that all of those sorts of things start happening, we start having discussions about what it will be like. Behind the scenes, there’s quite a bit of work going on as well. So Adeona tries to engage with as many schools in their local area as possible. We reach out to school principals, to prep teachers, we invite them into the service, sometimes were invited into the schools, sometimes it’s a phone call to have a chat and share information. And the engagement with different schools is different. You know, they’re very busy too. But we really do try and work on those relationships, so that we know what schools expect from us and schools can know what to expect from children who have come through Adeona. And as much as we can get visits and things happening too, I think that really smooths the pathway, I think it’s really special if a Prep teacher can come and visit and see and the children can show them there the environment that they are very familiar with already. Probably the next big step though, is the transition statements. Once again, that’s something that starts happening early September for all our early childhood teachers in our yellow tribe. Zoe, would you like to talk about transition statements?
Sure, so similar to our reflections of learning, transition statements are basically a statement relating to the Queensland Kindergarten outlines, rather than EYLF, which are very similar, they almost go hand in hand. It’s still those ideas of identity, well being, connection, being an active learner and communication. So as I said, that’s that whole picture of the child, it doesn’t honour one more than the other. So previously, transition statements were something that each centre had a responsibility to create. But now they’ve gone to a centralized transition statement that’s run by the study authority. So they’re a bit more formalized, and they still relate to all those areas. And what happens is that’s now an online document, our kindy teachers create them, then they provide a draft to families for feedback and consultation, which is a lovely process. For us, that means that we have a meeting with families to sit down and actually read through it. We jot down any ideas that the family might have at that point to change or any suggestions that they have, but the statements have changed a little bit, so it’s a lot more kind of drop box and we don’t have the capacity to put in some things that we used to have in our transition statements. So we do a secondary part to that, which I’ll explain in a moment. So the transition statements are then uploaded on to the Queensland study authorities website so that all schools can access each child’s transition statement. As Tracy said, we like to get those out fairly early because schools like to start to make plans around where children will fit best, and with which cohort in which other children they’ll fit best. So we try to get those out really early to give prep teachers as much time and schools as much time to work on that at their end as well because, of course, their year winds up quite quickly in term four. So yeah, we tried to give them as much time as possible. So the second part that we like to do here at Adeona to make sure we’re capturing voices of parents and children is that we also sit down with the children and have a conversation one on one about what they think their journey through yellow tribe or kindergarten has been and also what they’re anticipating for school, I guess is the best way to explain it, what they maybe already know about school from their visits, and what they’re thinking about what’s going to happen in the next year. So then we then share that on our documentation platform with families so that they can see as well and then they can provide some feedback, or it might give them a little bit of help on how to help their children as they transition into school as well. So then after that, sometimes we do get schools reaching out to us for some further information, if they are not sure about something in particular, or a parent has expressed that they would like for us to connect with the school if there’s something that they are also concerned about and so then there’s that other point of collaboration at the end of the year, as well, sometimes.
And those transition statements can only be shared with schools with parent permission. So sort of early in the year when the teacher starts to work on those, families will receive a permission slip to say that they give us permission to share that information, regardless of whether you give permission or not one will be created and given to you to the parent decide what they would like to do with that. With the transition statements too that’s also written as a strengths based document, it’s there to inform schools of what the child can do, and what they are able to achieve and what support they have had in place at our services, so that’s the sort of information that’s shared. And then I guess it’s time for for everyone to go to school, that’s what happens, they leave us. Every Adeona service works a little bit differently. But we do like to mark the occasion was some sort of ceremony or picnic or gathering to celebrate the end of kindergarten and the end of the their time at Adeona as they leave us to go to school. This will generally happen in early December, but we do acknowledge that a lot of children stay with us up until the first day of school too. So we’re able to share that excitement with them, which is lovely. Once they’re in school, we do try to also invite the children back to come back in their in their uniforms and share their experiences for schools with the next kindergarten cohort. This might be when they’re in prep, or maybe a couple years down the road when they’ve had younger siblings in other centres or in year 2 or something, come and share their experiences because I think that that really helps ease some of the anxieties of the children moving on to school and share their experience and set realistic expectations of what’s going to happen next. So that’s pretty much it for transitions and the process that we go through, it seems funny that we’ve been able to wrap it up in a 30 minute podcast when it literally takes us six months. But I think it’s really important for families and for educators to know the processes that go through to ensure that transitions in all different contexts are as smooth as possible.
Yeah, and I think it’s also always really important to remember that this is a transition for you as a family and not just about the child in particular. Certainly they are our focus, but for you on your side, listening to this, it is about your family. And, you know, sometimes we get just as much anxiety from families as we do from the children. So that’s normal. Yeah, and, you know, always feel free to stop in and chat to any of the directors because they always have time to reassure and or, you know, make adjustments where we can.
We’re here to work with families and to support them and help them build the relationships with the new educators that they may be coming across as they transition, you know, move through the centre. So yeah, so thank you very much for listening. We appreciate your time, and we look forward to speaking to you soon.