15 February, 2023

How to support your child in their school transition

How to support your child in their school transition-Supporting Transition-IMG_0746_11zon (1)
At La Côte International School Aubonne, it’s all about parent-teacher team work.

Starting a new school, or moving up a year group, is a transition many children – and parents – find anxiety-inducing. But with careful preparation, you can help set your child up for success, says Sandrine Pureur, Early Years specialist at La Côte International School Aubonne (LCIS).

The slower the better. From an early years practitioner’s point of view, you can’t turn back a transition. You have to get it right at the beginning. And so it might take time for your child to settle in. Some children need more sessions, some need just one. Some can’t come for full days for a while. If children don’t feel safe and secure, they can’t learn. And so for us, the first half-term is all about building a relationship with the children and their family and helping a child to feel secure.

Help your child prepare. We encourage all parents to sign up to our ‘discovery’ orientation days for younger children to explore their new environment, and meet their new classmates and teachers. But there’s lots that parents can do to help reduce uncertainty:


  • Ask the school for a timetable you can keep at home and talk through your child’s new day. What sort of things will they do at school? How will they get to school and back? Who will pick them up? Try and be as visual as possible – particularly important for children who speak more than one language or don’t speak English. Don’t forget to explain it all in a child-friendly way that they will understand.
  • Show your child pictures of their new teacher and what uniform they will wear.
  • Have a calendar with the new school date marked on for your children to cross off.
  • The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn, is a great book to use for the first week of school.
  • If your child doesn’t know any other children in the class, you could contact other families to arrange playdates before they start.


Include children in the planning. Let your child take an active role in the transition. For example, they could choose their shoes, lunch box, bag or water bottle. We ask children to come in with a picture of their family to put in a frame and your child could choose the photo. Perhaps they could pick a soft toy or treasured possession that makes them feel good to bring in.

Knowing you’ll be there at the end of their first day is really important. Because they don’t understand the concept of time, just telling a child you’ll be picking them up won’t be enough. Talk through their timetable with them and show them when it is you’ll be collecting them, for example, after they’ve had their afternoon snack. It can take younger children a good half term to get used to that. We find that the second day is always the hardest because the first is a novelty and they often don’t realise that they will be returning the next day.


Share as much information with teachers as you can about your child. Communication between home and school is very important and we like to work in partnership. If we can understand the child and what makes them tick, that helps us to support the best transition possible. It’s about getting to know the child and them getting to know us. If something has happened at home in the morning or the night before, let the teacher know so they can keep an eye on them. At LCIS, we pride ourselves on a very personalised, individual approach to transitions for both child and parent. We have an ‘All About Me’ session with families to gather as much information about their child, from what to do if they get upset to whether they can go to the toilet by themselves.


Tears are to be expected. We do often have a lot of tears for the first couple of days and many parents feel like it’s a failure on their part. We understand how difficult it can be leaving your child, but sometimes the longer a parent stays, the worse it can be. Children often settle quickly and we send parents pictures for the first few days. If a child is struggling, we know what to do as we have plenty of experience and tricks to help them settle. But we will always call parents if a child really isn’t coping.