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Gentle Transitions: Signs Reminding Parents are Everywhere

Gentle Transitions: Signs Reminding Parents are Everywhere
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Gentle Transitions: Signs Reminding Parents are Everywhere

Male Couple With Baby Walking Through Fall WoodlandAs the days grow shorter, the signs suddenly appear everywhere: Halloween candy and costumes, fall vegetables and foliage, football and hockey promos, and more. Parents and families are bombarded with those annual subtle and over-the-top messages that signal change. Unfortunately, transitions can be stressful and challenging for parents and families, and for their teachers and providers, to navigate.

What is meant by transitions and why are they so challenging?

Transitions mean change. Change can be difficult for many people, especially young children transitioning to new home or community, kindergarten, routines, and rules. For example, in a structured environment, young children are expected to stop playing and move easily into the next activity. This can be a tough adjustment for children, and sometimes for their parents as well.

Gentle Transition Tips for parents of young children - ayoung girl holds her parent's hand and looks up to them as they walk into a classroom

For Parents and Families

Before taking on any transition, take a moment and breathe. Download this helpful activity calendar, “Get Ready for Kindergarten“. Then check out these six simple ideas from Brooks Publishing Company’s Learning Activities & More to support young children in times of change:

  1. Prepare children for changes. Changes such as starting preschool can be stressful to young kids. Discuss the details of changes with them. Knowing what to expect will help decrease their fears.
  2. Talk to children about feelings. Ask your child how they feel. Teach emotion words such as happy, scared, mad, or worried.
  3. Keep children away from scary situations. This includes fictional scares in TV shows or video games.
  4. Be comforting. When a child is scared or worried, offer comforting words and actions. Later, when your child is calm again, talk to them about what happened.
  5. Limit talk about your own worries. When your child is near, try to be as positive as you can.
  6. Offer a mix of activities. A mix of active and quiet activities will give your child many ways to deal with stress.
For Teachers and Providers

Remember: whether it’s being a little afraid, frustrated, sad, or just plain angry, little ones experience “BIG” feelings too. Take a moment to watch this short video, “Little People, BIG Feelings,” that discusses how easy or difficult it can be for young children to transition, share, or follow directions. In addition, the six resources below can help guide teachers and providers as they support parents and families during transitions with their children:

  1. The Maryland Family Engagement Toolkit Goal 5: Transitions
  2. Understanding Transitions
  3. Family Engagement in Transitions: Transition to Kindergarten
  4. Maryland Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (SEFEL)
  5. Simple Concepts to Embed in Everyday Routines
  6. The DRU Judy Center Promotes Family Well-Being (Bedtime Routines)
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