Transition guidance for parents - COVID-19

Home learning has presented its very own set of delights and challenges for parents working with children in the 3 to 5 year old range.  Here you can find some guidance to help you as your child starts school.

‘I will be fine starting school because I have my friend, Elsie.’

Emma, 4 years 1 month

What is transition?   

Transition refers to any changes that a child may experience. In education, this refers to the transfer into a school or to another year group. Transitions are a natural part of school life; they are a process rather than a single event. Some children and families may need more time or a range of approaches to help them adapt to the changes.   

Why is transition so important?  

A smooth and effective transition helps your child to have a successful start in a new setting. If a child feels happy during this process, they will make new friends. They will also play with confidence and engage well with the adults around them. With a positive transition, your child will be motivated, curious, open to new ideas and ready to learn. This is what we want for everyone.  

Schools and settings understand how unsettling this year has been for parents. They will be keen to reassure you and to help you prepare for your child starting school in September.  

The time leading up to starting school, and the settling in period afterwards, will take longer for some children than for others. Schools will organise activities and information that will support you as a parent to help your child feel prepared and excited for school. The activities and events are likely to include: 

  • stay and play sessions  
  • information evenings for parents and carers 
  • induction packs 
  • home visits  
  • visits to the nursery or classroom.  

The transition for your child starting school this September will already be taking place. 

At this present time, face-to-face introductions will be difficult due to current physical distancing guidelines. Regular visits to get to know the staff and the environment will not be taking place, which may make parents feel anxious. 

During this time, teachers in all schools will be contacting parents and carers. Remote conversations will be taking place and schools will be providing opportunities for building positive relationships. Some teachers are even getting creative online, finding new ways of sharing the environment and introducing themselves.

Things to discuss when talking with your child’s new teacher 

You should think about:

  • any special or individual needs that your child may have   
  • any other agencies or professionals involved in supporting your child’s development, for example, speech and language  
  • the home language: what language do you speak to your children in? What language are they most confident using?  
  • any allergies or dietary requirements   
  • your child’s interests, things that they like doing, places they like to visit, books that they like to read   
  • how has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted on your child and family? Has the ‘stay at home’ time been challenging? Have you had some special family time? Has your child learnt new skills? 
  • your family situation, for example, who lives at home? Do you have family support? Have you got any pets?   
  • has your child attended other nursery settings or been looked after by a childminder or nanny?  

Ways you can help your child with starting school  

You could:

  • talk to your child about starting school and the exciting things that will be on offer to them, for example, meeting new friends, playing games and learning together   
  • walk or drive past the school building to show your child where they are going to go to school 
  • talk to your child about why they cannot go into their new school at the moment  
  • send a postcard to your child’s new teacher telling them about your child’s interests and the things that they like to do
  • encourage and practice independent skills at home, for example, getting dressed, putting on shoes and socks, going to the toilet, unzipping or opening lunch boxes, using a water bottle
  • encourage ‘having another go’ when practicing and learning new skills, trying again. Having a ‘can do’ attitude will really help your child to build resilience and perseverance  
  • read or listen to lots of stories and share books together  
  • try imaginary role-play with your child, for example, set up little shops, doctors surgeries or veterinary practices, and pretend play that you are a doctor, a shopkeeper or a poorly pet
  • bake together or plant some seeds
  • whilst on trips out and about, whether walking or in the car, talk about what you notice, for example, 2 big dogs, a red car, a noisy ambulance, a road sign, a supermarket, some pretty flowers, a tall tree. Make a collection to use at home
  • go to the beach and play, dig in the sand, collect shells, paddle and splash in the pools and have an ice cream! 


A brief guide to the characteristics for effective learning

‘Children develop at their own rates, and in their own ways.’ The British Association for Early Childhood Education

Your child is learning all the time from the people that they engage with and the world in which they are growing up. How they learn will be supported by their attitudes and dispositions, for example, their resilience, playfulness and independence. You can help them develop these skills by showing how to:  

  • bounce back after they have found something difficult or frustrating 
  • understand and talk about their feelings
  • solve their own problems.  

These skills will enable your child to become a successful life-long learner. They are called the ‘characteristics for effective learning’. The characteristics for effective learning are split into three areas: playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically. 

The ways in which your child engages with other people and their environment – playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically – underpins their learning and development. This is applicable across all other areas and helps to support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner. (Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage) 


Learning at home - guidance for parents

'Help me to do it myself' - Dr Maria Montessori

No one expects you to act as a teacher

The focus for learning at home with young child has to be based on being playful and having fun. No-one expects parents to act as teachers or childcare providers.

Make sure that you include your child in the everyday activities like putting on the washing, writing a birthday card or laying the table. Talk to your child as much as possible, and take time to explain what you are doing and why. It is important to model how you do things, recognise and praise your child’s contributions and provide them with opportunities.

Setting a predictable routine

Children will feel more comfortable with a predictable routine, so try to help them by:

  • getting up and going to bed at the same time each day
  • having regular meal times
  • turning off any electronic devices, including the TV, at least an hour before bedtime
  • sharing a bedtime story
  • ensuring they are active for at least 3 hours a day

It will help them if everyone in the home talks to them throughout the day, responding to them and being led by the things they are interested in. Try sitting with your child and looking at pictures of their friends or family and talking to them about the things you have done together.

Physical development in the early years

It is good to get some fresh air every day.

During the lock down, and continued restrictions on physical distancing, we might not have been out and about as much as we would like. In the early years of a child’s life, it’s vital that we give them lots of physical opportunities and activities to move around. Activities that support their physical development will help them to understand their bodies and strengthen their muscles.   

Jumping off logs, climbing trees, sliding, slipping and speeding around were once a natural part of any childhood. Making sure that every child gets the opportunity to push their boundaries and explore what they can do when it comes to their risky play, should still be a key part of their everyday experiences. 

The link below has ideas to nurture physical development at every age: 

Parents' guide to physical development in the early years

Curriculum, literacy and mathematics

Our parents' guides to curriculum, literacy and mathematics are provided for you below:

Parents' guide to the new curriculum

Literacy guide for parents and carers (English)

Literacy guide for parents and carers (Portuguese)

Literacy guide for parents and carers (Polish)

Mathematics parent guide (English)

Mathematics parent guide (Portuguese)

Mathematics parent guide (Polish)

Helpful links

Link Age Description Cost
Home learning 3 to 5 years Lots of ideas and guidance about early learning for children aged 0-5 years from Bristol Early Years Teaching School Alliance Free
Back to school transition 3 to 5 years A video (You Tube) highlighting the importance of play time Free
The psychology of play 3 to 5 years A video (You Tube) showing how play helps children to deal with stress and worry Free
Jersey Childcare Trust 3 to 5 years Advice for parents looking for childcare Free
Everybody Worries 3 to 9 years An online book to support parents in helping children understand Coronavirus Free
Coronavirus: A book for children  5 to 9 years A book explaining the coronavirus to children Free
Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum
Birth to 5 years guide to EYFS curriculum Free