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What is a Transition in Education?

When it comes to Education, you may hear reference to something called a Transition or Transitional Phase. Broadly speaking, this refers to the major transitional points in the education system where a Child or Young Person moves from:

  • Pre-School to Infant or Primary School
  • Primary School to Secondary School*

*You may hear Secondary School called by other names, such as High School or Senior School.

Please click on one of the below pathways to learn more information about that Transitional Phase and some key tips to help make the Transition easier.

General Tips:

1. Get everything ready the night before:
Get everything ready that they are going to need in advance including backpack; uniform; PE kit; stationery; books etc. and decide whether they are going to have a school lunch or packed lunch.

2. Getting Dressed for School:
Children with sensory issues can be overly sensitive to the way different textures of clothing feel on their skin. They might not be able to tolerate the feeling of new shoes because the material is too stiff. Their reactions to items like itchy sweaters or stiff trousers can range from annoyance to outright refusal to wear something. Being aware of what triggers negative reactions in your child can help. For instance, cut off clothing labels if they bother your child. Small adjustments could reduce complaining—and help to get you out of the door faster. Top tip – some clothing retailers offer sensory-friendly school uniform options.

3. Set a bedtime routineThe Sleep Charity have produced these tips:
If you have a child with additional needs and sleep issues, bedtime can be tricky. Whether they struggle to communicate how they’re feeling, have increased anxiety, sensory issues or social cueing problems, sleeping may well be difficult. For example, research estimates that between 40-80% of Children and Young Adults with Autism have sleep problems. If your child regularly has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, it may be a sign of a sleep issue. Lack of sleep can impact in the following ways:
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased behavioural problems
  • Irritability
  • Poor learning and cognitive performance
Here is some advice that may help if your child struggles to drop off or stay asleep:

  • Explore reasons for your child’s sleep issues. Underlying reasons may include sensory processing difficulties, lack of understanding about night and day or medical issues.
  • Record what is happening at night by using a sleep diary. They can be used to establish any unusual patters or identify any factors that are impacting on sleep. Share this information with professionals to see if they can help you to explore why your child may have sleep issues and what might be appropriate strategies to try to improve your child’s sleep.
  • Use visual clues to support your child’s understanding. Visual timetables can help to show your child what is going to happen next during the bedtime routine. This can make the evening calmer and easier for you and your child.
  • Television viewing may hinder melatonin production so avoid any screens in the hour leading up to bedtime – this includes mobile phones and computer screens. Melatonin is the hormone that helps us to fall asleep and some research suggests that some children with additional needs may not produce enough or may release it later in the evening. Replace TV with calm activities like completing a puzzle together or colouring.
  • Review your child’s diet to ensure that they are not eating or drinking anything sugar loaded before bedtime.
  • Ensure that your child is in a reassuring routine and put them to bed at the same time each night. It is also important to wake them at the same time each morning. Children thrive on routine such as bath, reading a book, gentle music and then bed.
  • Review your child’s bedroom and assess whether it is a good environment to promote sleep. Ideally it should be cool, quiet and dark. However, if they are visually impaired or hearing impaired then sleeping in total darkness may be disorientating for them. Consider how their bed feels and whether it meets their sensory needs.
  • Sleep problems can be complex and it is important to try to identify possible causes. These can include anxiety issues, behavioural issues as well as medical factors. Ask your health practitioners for guidance and make sure that you tell them about any unusual night time behaviours such as snoring, teeth grinding or night terrors too.
The Nuffield Trust have produced the following video on Sleep Routines:
Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

4. Organise your morning routine:
It is important to set rules or routines in advance, and these can be very detailed if that is needed. You can arrange a routine that includes timescales, for getting up, getting ready, eating breakfast, having some down time, preparing to leave, and even includes the route that you will take to school.

5. Stock up on school supplies and buy spare uniform if possible:
A second set of school supplies, uniform and equipment should be kept at home that is the same as the one that the child is using. This will be very important if your child loses anything during the school day.

6. School day plan:
Have a copy of your child’s timetable and talk to your child about what they will be doing each day. If the timetable is available on-line or via an app, consider writing it out for them so that they have the reassurance of having a visual copy too. 

Top Tip: Suggest getting up 30 minutes earlier than you think you should!

7. Decompress:
Have calm and quiet time after school so your child can self-regulate.

8. Create a safe place:
Try to create a space at home where your child feels safe and can retreat for some down time.

9. Acceptance:
Accept that your child is different and let them lead on how they feel, cope and what they feel able to do. Always validate your child’s feelings and emotions.

10. Travelling to school:
Take the journey with your child between home and school, whether you walk, drive, or take public transport, as many times as you can and you could also film the route or take photos to help your child become familiar with the route. This will help to make the journey more predictable, which will help children who experience anxiety or hyper vigilance in unfamiliar surroundings. If your child uses the Local Authority transport services to school, speak to the transport provider to find out more about the journey – for example: the route that will be taken, how many other children will be in the vehicle, how long the journey will take with the collections/drop-offs of the other children etc.

Top Tip: Use your 'Maps' app to plan the journey, these apps often show the time it will take to walk, drive and take public transport as well as showing you the exact route to take! Map apps come pre-installed on most smartphones, such as Apple Maps for iPhone and Google Maps for Android.

Click here to go to Google Maps.