Alistair Bryce-Clegg was head teacher of an infant school and Early Years unit for 10 years. Alongside his headship, he worked as an EYFS consultant working with a diverse range of settings to help them enhance their EYFS practice. In 2009, Alistair left headship and went into full time consultancy with his business ABC Does.
This is Alistair’s 25th book for Bloomsbury Education; he is also series editor of the popular 50 Fantastics series.
A really good transition to Year One can make a significant difference when it comes to children’s well-being and attainment. As our children join Key Stage 1, it is really important to be mindful of the fact that they are only five or six weeks older than when they left Foundation Stage. In those five or six weeks, they have probably done very little (if any) guided reading, phonics or mega maths! It will take them a little while to get back to where they were before the summer. That is why the more familiar the Year One space is, and the more it reflects the way they are used to learning, the faster their progress would be.
There are lots of elements to an effective transition. Some are to do with culture and others are to do with activity, but if I had to give you my top five transition tips, they would be:
- Transition is a process not an event
One thing to keep at the forefront of your thinking is that children should enjoy the transition process – not just experience or endure it, but actually enjoy it. For this to happen, it needs to be planned well in advance. If it is practical, then pre-transition visits should be regular throughout the year, not just in the last week of the summer term. Children should have lots of opportunities to visit the Year One space, even if there is no guarantee that it house the same teacher next year. Every bit of familiarity helps.
- Play – it’s not a four-letter word!
A play-based approach to transition is not just about getting out the buckets and spades and some construction on a rug! We want children to be able to build on what they already know and to hone and extend their skills, resulting in them becoming effective learners.
A good EYFS environment is based on accurate assessment, skill development, and implicit and explicit challenge. It is not left to chance and it doesn’t happen by accident. When the children transition into Year One, there needs to be the same rigour applied to their play spaces as there was in Reception. High level engagement leads to high level attainment and children are rarely more engaged than when at play – whatever their age.
- Continuity is key
As adults, we can find the transitions that we make in our life nerve-racking and unsettling, such as starting a new job or moving to a new area. We often don’t feel happy and settled until things become a bit more familiar.
This sort of feeling is no different for children, in fact it is likely to be greatly magnified. As adults, we have a great deal of prior knowledge and experience of life to draw on, whereas children have significantly less. They don’t know from experience that everything is likely to be all right, nor do they have strategies for dealing with the situation if it isn’t. That is why good transitions are crucial, both for children’s emotional well-being, and their potential for attainment.
- Don’t forget the parents/carers
Transition is primarily about children, but it is also about their parents. Parents and carers need to feel well informed about and comfortable with all transitions in their child’s life. Children, parents/carers and staff need to be involved on an equal basis. Parents need lots of opportunities to access a variety of information to let them know what Year One will look like and what to expect. Transition is about the setting fitting the child, not the child fitting the setting.
- Enjoy it!
The most important thing to remember about transition is that effective transition takes time. Effective play-based transition can have a really powerful effect on all children, capitalising on what they know and how they learned it, enabling them to be the best that they can be in Year One.
Effective Transition into Year One is available to buy now