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  • Writer's pictureAnnie Pendrey

Transitions as a Mom, a Nursery Nurse, and a Lecturer

I have had the good fortune to support, teach, guide and mentor children and adults from early years to higher education, to teaching in the community. My oldest pupil having been 86 when I taught floristry (yes, I am a qualified florist!).

In each of these age groups, I have supported children and adults transitioning to a new setting, a new class amongst other transitions. With September looming, we are possibly all beginning to consider what we can do to ensure all our learners transit seamlessly into their new environments. And if you are a parent or carer, you will also be thinking about how to support your own child – I know I was always very anxious each September with my own children.

There is a wealth of humanistic theory that supports our professional practice and sparks our reflections, such as the work of Bowlby and attachments, Winnicott and transitional objects and Rogers with his thoughts on positive self-regard. Intertwined with these theories are our open arms, the smiles on our faces and the kindness we radiate as nurturers, and the professional love we offer our children and adults at the start of their journey with us.

So, what are your plans for transitioning the children into your setting? How will you support them prior to starting nursery? What are your plans for older children or adults transitioning to school, college or university? How will you support them? And if you are a parent, how will you ensure your child knows they will be safe and secure and off to a new and exciting adventure?

Let me answer some of these questions with some of my own ideas for transitions from early years through to FE and HE. Let me share with you how I have avoided icebreakers with adults but used other techniques for them to settle and feel safe and secure. I cannot share all my ideas and resources in one blog, but here is a snippet!


A Pocket Hug

As a mom and a Nursery Nurse, I was very aware of the importance of preparing my children for a new adventure but also aware that each of my children were suddenly going to spend a period away from their main caregiver and might need some reassurance.

As parents we had of course taken our children along to their transition days, spoke to them about all the wonderful things they would be doing in nursery and school but still I knew I wanted them to feel safe, secure and have a little of me with them all day. So, I made them a pocket hug.

Each of my children’s pocket hug was different but one thing both children had was a spray of my perfume on their pocket hug object. The pocket hug was popped in their pockets each day and they knew that if they suddenly felt sad, or a little unsure, they could take out their pocket hug, smell my perfume and know a little bit of me was with them, a transitional object.

Early Years

Connecting you and me in a Home Visit – Duplo

I recently posted this idea on social media, and it appears in my third book (out in the new year): Being, Becoming and Thriving as an Early Years Practitioner. It is an idea I used years ago, as a Nursery Nurse.

It relates to forming attachments with my new intake of nursery children. Each year, I would be allocated a new set of children (my family group). I would make contact to visit every child in their homes, often weeks before they would start nursery in September.

I knew the gap between the visit and their transition was a long time, and so I tried to think of ways that the child and I would have a connection, a bond and an attachment that would support the child on their first day in nursery. And so, out came my bag of bricks.

On the home visit, I would arrive at the child’s home with lots of activities but always last to come out of my Mary Poppins style bag was my special bag of bricks. I would tell the child a story about how I needed help building and we would set to work creating something in their home, in silence or whilst chatting. This was the start of our bonding. This bonding continued as we tidied away the bricks, that is all but one brick.

Before leaving the child’s home, I would ask them to look after one brick for me. I would ask them to keep it safe and to please make sure they brought it with them on their first day in nursery where I would greet them and their family at the door with my special bag of bricks, ready to play and construct. Some children came racing in, almost throwing the brick at me, and would then run off to play with all the other activities on offer, whilst others would hand me the brick and we would go off and play and others who would hold the brick all session and possibly say nothing. The point is, we had a connection.

There is so much more to this transitional activity, but you will have to wait until book 3!


Me in a Box

I first wrote about this in my Little Book of Reflective Practice. In my book, I used it as a method of pre-reflection. However, having worked with young people and adults I have also used this method as a transitional activity.

Instead, of people bingo, or students waiting for their turn to say their name and a little about themselves or take part in any other ice breaker for that matter, students don’t have to feel anxious about introducing themselves and or feel stressed about having to come up with a fun fact about themselves. Instead, students can be given space, time and feel a sense of ease and create a Me in a Box. Me in a Box involves filling a box with objects that represent themselves as individuals or as an early year’s professional.

You can provide students with a range of objects that they have to guess how each object is linked to their roles as early years practitioners. For example, string which might represent connections, an old watch for timekeeping, and a pen to represent reflective journaling. Let your imagination or their imagination go wild collecting objects!

If students are creating their individual Me in a Box, they don’t have to talk, they could scribe their responses for sharing with you. Equally, they might also not wish to share on the first day, but they might as their confidence grows. The point is they are in control and feel at ease.

The most engaging thing I have done, is to be open and honest with my students and on their first day and I have shared my Me in a Box. This has given the students the opportunity to appreciate who the individual is who will be teaching them for the next year or so. It is also important for you to share with your students that your objects will change as indeed will theirs as they develop and thrive as individuals on their professional and academic learning journey.

If you would like the accompanying resources, worksheets, and further ideas for transition, please contact me.

Equally, if you love my ideas, then comment on the blog.

See you in September for the next Early Years Professional Exchange Newsletter.

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