A guide to transitions

This film shows some ideas for helping young children start school. It was made by Lambeth and Southwark community speech and language therapy team.

Supporting Transitions

We make transitions throughout our daily lives; some big, some small, most we don’t notice. For some children with SEND, transitions can be stressful and make them anxious.

Here’s some help to make some transitions easier. It’s mainly about helping your child start school. 

Moving into reception

Changing from nursery to school is a big move for all children, especially for parents of children with SEND. Planning transition into school is good for the child, the parent and the school.

Once a school place is agreed, the reception teaching team from the school should contact the family and nursery to start planning. For a child with additional needs, the SENDCO (special educational needs and/or disabilities coordinator) should be involved.

Family and professionals might be invited to a transition meeting in the summer term before the child starts school.  This gives the school, nursery, family and other professionals a chance to talk about the child’s needs and any extra resources that should be put in place. 

A transition plan should be agreed. The nursery will coordinate this. The plan should have dates and times to visit the school, so the child can meet the staff and get to know the school.

The school SENDCO may also prepare ‘settling in plan’. It’s a good time to talk about dietary and medical needs if there are any.

How to help a child prepare for school

Here are some helpful checklists looking at the skills children could work on during the summer before school starts. Not all children can do them all.

Getting ready for school guides and downloadable resources  

PACEY preparing for school guide

Visual getting ready for school checklist

What Lambeth does to support transitions

The Quality Improvement Team arranges events across the borough where nurseries and schools meet to exchange information about children’s transitions. They also offer individual support if it is needed.

Early Years SEN service holds SENDCO networks 3 times a year. Transitions and supporting children with SEND are discussed at these events.

Other types of transitions

Transitions that happen daily for children include:

  • moving from one activity to another
  • moving from one room to another
  • changing clothes
  • getting in and out of the bath or shower

Ways to support them include:

  • preparing them for a change, no matter how small, by telling and showing them what’s going to happen
  • using visual supports, like now and next boards, visual timetables and social stories to help them prepare and understand
  • having good routines and structures at home and in the nursery