Sunday, 29 June 2014

'Effective transitions' Part 1 - From home to Nursery

This is part 1 of a series regarding Transitions and how we manage these in our Nursery and Reception classes.  The strategies used here are very specific to our children and could not be used 'as is' with any other cohort, however they may provide inspiration for your own transition since these work very well for us.

Our Nursery is built upon routines which help children get through their day and provide independence where possible.  One of our main focuses is to begin building a routine first thing by having a single key worker work with a child on their home visit and in settling in Nursery.
Initially new children will come to us and spent time in a small 'pre-3' room where they play with a familiar member of staff (and time with their key worker) and they are given the chance to 'learn how to play' with the types of toys we have in our setting.  Our nursery nurse will also sing songs and read stories which we sing downstairs giving the child a link between the two.  All this time they are with their parents and are not separated.

When they are ready, they enter Nursery with their parent.  Initially they spend around 20 minutes in the room.  There are similarities to upstairs but there are A LOT more children.  It can be difficult for the child however they spend this time with their key worker and play games/with toys they know from upstairs or things their key worker observed on the home visit.

The next day (or when they are ready) we ask mum or dad to leave for a few minutes. To reassure the child we explain they are going to the toilet and coming straight back.   Some children settle happily and we slowly increase the time spent with us by up to 30 minutes each day.
However, most children do get a little upset.  This is when the role of the key worker is so important because they know that child well enough now to play and distract/comfort.  There are some cases where this isn't enough and another strategy needs to be considered including asking parents to help to settle for longer or spending time upstairs again with their key worker but for longer.
It can be incredibly difficult to deal with crying children and a lot of new staff find this hard and they jump to their instinct of comforting and 'undoing' whatever made them cry - "WAIT mum come back!" But children need to be given this chance to separate.

Below are 3 case studies reflecting how we have settled children in with different needs and in different ways: 

Case study 1:

Z has a sister in Nursery.  She has been excited about coming for a long time and we see her coming every morning.  Her sister settled within a few days to full time because she had a cousin and was very confident away from mum.  Mum was sure Z would settle as quick and easily.  We tried to separate after the first day for 2 minutes but Z became very upset.  We reassured her that mum was coming back and her sister tried to comfort her.  She didn't stop crying but we waited until she had begun to distract herself to invite mum in.
It took over 3 months of mum staying the whole session for Z to feel confident for her to leave for 10 minutes.  Every day she tried to leave the room for a few minutes when Z was distracted and would return after a set number of minutes.  Each time Z would get upset but she quickly came to me (her key worker) for comfort.  Z settled and is now one of the most confident children.

Case study 2:

H tried to settle into a local Nursery.  After 5 months trying dad applied for our nursery to give his son a try somewhere new.  He bonds with men more than women so dad was happy when I was assigned as his key worker.  H came to the setting and after the first day we started to separate. He built up confidence but one day just stopped being happy.  He started crying as he came in and would scream when dad started to leave.  So we (me and dad) decided to start back at square one.  Dad stayed in the session for a long time every day to settle his son and build the relationship with me.  Then dad started leaving for 1, 2, 3 minutes.  H spent 3 months getting to this stage and has only recently made it to full time.  We had to work through building up his routine in the setting making sure he fully understood what was happening next and how his dad fits into his routine.

Ta twinkl;)
We now use a visual chart as a 'now and then' to make sure he knows what he should be doing and what comes next.  When home time appears he gets very excited!

Routine is a vital part of a child's day.  We have a very strict routine in Nursery of play, tidy up, group time, play, tidy up group time, home time.  The children know this and they know the songs we sing to signal change in times and events.  H refers to group time 1 as tick tock because of the song we sing at the end which used to mark the time his dad would return.  Now 'tick tock' is part of his timetable and he gets excited when he hears this.

Case study 3:

A has a cousin in Nursery.  She has heard all about her cousins key worker so when she comes in she goes straight to that EYP.  I am her key worker but she is frightened of me and doesn't want to come or settle with me.  She goes through the settling in process with mum but each time prefers to spend time with another EYP.  Rather than force her or spend too much time upsetting her, the EYP (who I am grateful to - and she is reading!) spent time with her settling her in.  A went with her to her group times and has just recently started to spend time with other staff.  Its been over a month and a lot of hard work but A has just recently begun to spend time around me.  I would usually have asked our EYP to have A in her key worker group however it would really upset her cousin. A has now moved to a different group with a member of staff who she settles with and is making fantastic progress!

I feel that it is important to for children to decide who their key worker should be by how they settle with them.  I had two girls who found it hard to settle with me who moved groups.  Having a key worker in mind is useful but can hinder the settling in process if that child is anxious around them.

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