As early years leaders, when we think about transitions, we are drawn to consider how a child successfully settles into a setting, or seamlessly moves between rooms and key workers. We may consider their development stage and readiness to transition into a new phase. But how often do you consider similar milestones for your staff team? Throughout our September bundle, we will be looking at transitions as a wider topic, addressing the transitions your team and business goes through as well as those of the children. We will be relating what we know and trust about children’s transitions to the ways our team behave, the milestones they reach and the support we need to offer them to ensure their transitions are smooth and seamless.
The last few months have been unprecedented, with both children and adults experiencing emotions and situations that none of us could have predicted. For the majority of children, there has been more time spent at home, indoors and out of their usual routine. So with more settings welcoming children back through their doors, supporting their transitions will no doubt be top priority for many of you.
However, this applies to your staff team too. Many will have been on furlough, perhaps worried about sick relatives, or having to shield themselves. They may have experienced financial issues. So might it be that their transitions back into the setting are as important as the children. Is it possible to relate the processes of children’s transitions to our staff team?
If we keep the four key principles from the EYFS in mind it can help us to consider how we can relate these to our staff teams :
A unique child – We are skilled at ensuring that each child is treated as an individual, that their needs are met on this basis and that they will all grow, develop and flourish at their own rate. We know that some children will transition from toddler room into preschool without batting an eye lid, where others need extra support with transitions from the indoor environment to the outdoor. If we all agree that all children are unique, with their own needs, thoughts, growth patterns and individual requirements, do we agree that this is true for our staff teams too? Can we just expect a practitioner who has worked for 2 years in the baby room to spend a day in preschool without any support or guidance? Can we expect our cook who has been on furlough for 4 months to come back and hit the ground running, without worrying about the extra hygiene precautions? Just like we would carefully observe the children in our care, notice changes in their behaviour, the way they engage with others an the way they communicate their feelings to us, we should do the same for our team. Each one is unique, will have different strengths, skills and areas for development. Ensure that you treat them as individuals and meet their needs too.
Positive relationships – When adults work cohesively, transitions are much smoother. Parents, carers and early years professionals need to understand the impact that transitions can have on a child. By ensuring positive relationships, we can communicate needs, share concerns and work together in a way that has a positive impact on the child. Can this be done with our teams? Can the relationship you have with an individual team member impact on their transitions within the work place? Imagine a practitioner stepping up from a level 3 key person role to a room leader role. Will your relationship with that practitioner impact on their successful role transition? Will it matter if they feel comfortable to come to you and express concerns or ask for help? Will the relationships they have with their peers also make a difference? Consider a practitioner who is transitioning from a different setting and joining your team. How much will positive relationships with their colleges impact on how easily they make the transition and settle into the team? Will such relationships make a difference in terms of retention and turnover of your staff and how they transition in terms of promotion within your team?
Enabling environments – Our early years environments are given lots of consideration, providing spaces for children to explore, learn and play, engaging them in thought provoking activities and open-ended resources. We take the time to ensure our pedagogy aligns with practice so that the environments match our vision and ethos, and provide a magical experience for our children. But what about the enabling environments for your team? Do they have access to open-ended resources that will enable to them learn, grow and develop their skills? Do we provide space for rest and relaxation? Is the working environment safe, engaging and inspiring for your team as well as your children? Do we prioritise their learning and their personal development? We want our settings to be a great place for children, but do we put as much effort into making them a great place to work?
Throughout this month we will delve more into the transitions of both children and staff teams, developing our roles as leaders as we work through the member resources.
Make sure you check back regularly and access the members resources.