Baby looking out window

My baby is all grown up and heading off to big school: How to manage transitions 


By Emma Daniels 

“There are two gifts we should give our children. One is roots, and the other is wings.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

It is such a bittersweet time, watching your child grow and become independent. You are so very proud but also sad. It is the end of something and the start of something. It is exciting and it is scary. If we are feeling all of these big emotions, imagine what our little ones are feeling?! Everyone is asking them, ‘are you excited for big school?’, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ ‘have you made any friends at big school?’, ‘are you going to miss your Kindy friends?’ and on and on it goes. It can be so overwhelming. They are excited because it’s been so hyped up, they are scared because it is unknown and unfamiliar, they are worried because they may sense your worry or they just may not know where the toilets are!  

Transitions are hard, times of change are tricky. So what can we do to help manage transitions, to minimise the possible negative feelings that can be associated with them. 


Talk about it 

Giving your child the opportunity to talk about how they are feeling without you influencing or putting words/emotions in their mouths. Ask questions like “What do you want to know about big school?” or “What do you think happens at big school?”. Answer honestly and openly and recognise when they don’t want to talk anymore.  


Prepare everyone

Most schools provide a transition to school program. This will often involve school visits, prep interviews and other arranged activities designed to help connect you and your family to the school and for your child to become familiar with the school, layout, expectations, teachers and new friends. I encourage you to involve your child in the forward planning for this. Let them know it is coming up and what will happen, whether you will be there or not, or if you will stay for a little while and then leave. Most importantly, make sure they know when you are coming back!  



It is so important to visit your child’s school before they start. They will be far more comfortable if they have been to the school, met their teachers, know where their classroom is (and know where the toilets are!). I encourage you to attend as many prep transition sessions as you can. And if they aren’t having any, ask if you can visit. Even go and visit the playground on the weekend (if the school allows this).  


Be understanding 

It is a time of big emotions. Children feel most comfortable with their primary caregiver, often they will hold onto all of their big emotions until they are in your safe space and then let go. They may say ‘no’ more often, just to feel like they have some control. They may have a shorter fuse, or be more emotional. All of this is normal, they are tired, unsure, it’s all new, there are lots of new rules and often this is how it all comes out. Plan for this, give them time, give them a cuddle or space whichever they prefer. Plan for some down time before launching into anything planned. Create a consistent afterschool and before school routine. This will help with the transition into school and help stabilise them. 







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