As an early year’s practitioner, your role is pivotal in creating a warm and welcoming environment for young children as they embark on their journey into Early Years Education. Supporting children and parents during the settling-in period is crucial for building trust, fostering a sense of security, and facilitating a smooth transition. This blog post will delve into the strategies and insights that early years practitioners can employ to ensure a successful start for children in settings throughout the start of term and beyond.
Understanding the Significance of the Settling-in Period: The settling-in period is a critical phase for children, parents, and practitioners alike. It lays the foundation for a child’s relationship with the setting, establishes trust with the practitioners, and eases the child’s separation from their primary caregivers. Something that some children may not have ever experienced before starting at a setting.
Building a Strong Relationship with Parents: Before the child’s first day, start building those key person relationships by engaging in conversations with parents about their child’s routines, interests, and any specific needs or concerns. This sets the foundation for a strong key-person relationship. Use things like all about me forms to find out what toys, songs and games the child likes and ensure these are available to them on their settling-in sessions and their first few days.
Personalised Approaches: Remember that every child is unique, each settling-in journey will be different and you must tailor your approach to suit the needs of the child and their family.
Gradual Introduction: A gradual introduction can greatly ease the transition. Invite parents and their children for short visits to the setting before the official start date. This allows the child to become familiar with the environment, meet the practitioners, and establish a sense of comfort. Invite them along to stay and plays, events and open evenings to give them a sense of community and make them welcomed.
Designated Key Person: Assigning a key person to each child before they start fosters a sense of consistency and security. The key person serves as a point of contact for both parents and children, helping to bridge the gap between home and the setting. The key person builds strong relationships with the child and parents, helping create a smoother transition.
Familiar Objects from Home: Encourage parents to send in a comfort object or a favourite toy from home. Having a familiar item can provide children with a sense of reassurance in the new environment. Parents could also send in family photographs and staff could make books or displays for the children to explore.
Creating a Welcoming Environment: Ensure that the setting environment is inviting, stimulating, and filled with resources that cater to different interests. Take a look at the setting through the eyes of the child, get down on the floor and see what they see… Does it look welcoming, warm, inviting and exciting?
Observation and Responsive Care: Observe children closely during the settling-in period to understand their needs and preferences. Respond to their cues promptly, offering comfort, encouragement, and reassurance as necessary.
As an early years practitioner, your role in supporting children and families during the settling-in period is invaluable. By fostering strong relationships, employing personalised approaches, and creating a nurturing environment, you lay the groundwork for positive and enriching learning experiences. Remember, your patience, empathy, and dedication will contribute to building a sense of security and trust that will benefit the children, their families, and your setting community as a whole.