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Reception Transition Day: How to Make it a Success

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

The prospect of starting Reception can feel like a big step for children. Some may be leaving their parents for the first time; others may not know any other children in their class and some may only just have turned four. Schools can ensure that they make this experience a positive one by arranging a new intake visit or visits during the summer term before children start Reception. Keep reading for new Reception transition day ideas!

happy children
Make your new Reception intake visit a positive experience!

What is a Reception Transition Day?

A Reception transition day is when your new intake visits you at school. You may want to do this in small groups if you have a large intake, to ensure that you can give each child some 1:1 time and to ensure that children aren't overwhelmed by all of the new faces. Usually, a couple of hours, or no more than a morning, is long enough for each visit. If possible, make sure that the children aren't arriving and leaving at the same time as the rest of the school. Don't forget that you will need to consider where your current Reception class are going to go and who will be looking after them! The best thing you can do on transition day is to allow the children to get a feel for their classroom and to help them to get to know the adults and children who they will be with each day.

children playing
Transition day fun

How Do Transition Days Help?

Transition days help children to feel less anxious about starting school. They are an opportunity for your new pupils to learn some of the basic routines of Reception class and for you to find out about each child and their interests. This will help you to hit the ground running in September.

How Can I Prepare for Transition Day(s)?

  • Consider where the children will come into school and where they will leave.

  • Think about whether you will invite parents to stay and settle their child at the beginning of each session, or whether they will leave their child at the door.

  • Set out an area for children to put their coats and bags.

  • Have a tray ready to collect any forms which might be returned.

  • Prepare a name sticker for each child, to help you to remember names!

  • Set up your classroom with lots of inviting activities!

letters with children sitting in them
Preparing for transition day

What Shall I Do on Transition Day(s)?

  • Begin the session with a quick carpet time: take a register, introduce the adults who will be working in the classroom, explain where the toilets are and tell the children how you will attract their attention when it is time to stop playing (e.g. "When I shake this tambourine, it means stop and look at me.")

  • You will probably just want to stay in the classroom and Reception outdoor area to begin with, as this will be where your new pupils will spend most of their time when they start school.

  • The most important thing to remember is to keep things simple and relaxed! Give the children plenty of time to play and get used to their new surroundings. Set out resources in the main areas of your continuous provision; for example, sand/water, construction, role play, creative, fine motor, outdoor, writing, maths, reading, etc. It is usually best to pare back the provision which you have out for your current Reception children until your new intake knows where everything belongs!

  • Ensure that you and your team are dotted around the classroom, to offer reassurance to anyone who needs it. Make sure that each adult has a notepad to quickly jot down any observations.

  • You may want to provide some specific activities for transition day(s). You could ask each child to draw or paint a self-portrait, which can then be displayed ready for September. The children could write their names at the transition visit and then again at the end of their Reception year. You could ask children to cut pictures of their favourite toys from a catalogue - this will allow you to assess their cutting skills and help you to find out about their interests! Parachute games are another great way to get to know your new intake. They encourage collaboration and team work too. An example of a game to play is 'All Change' - children swap places if they have brown hair/a brother/a pet/go swimming, etc!

  • Have a snack time together or perhaps in smaller groups to allow children the chance to chat and get to know each other.

  • If the children are staying for lunch, consider having a Teddy Bear's Picnic. Allow them to bring their own teddies and eat on picnic blankets outside if the weather is fine.

  • Take photos (with permission) of the children during their transition days. You can display these or share them with parents. If your transition days are before your new intake parents meeting, you can create a slideshow to play to the parents. They will love seeing their child playing happily at school!

  • A nice way to end your transition day is with a story or singing time. Don't forget to hand out a sticker to each child too, to say well done.

children doing activities
Make the new intake visit lots of fun!

What Next?

  • At the end of transition day, you can hand out a transition booklet for parents to complete and return to you.

  • If you haven't already, arrange a meeting for the parents of your new intake. This is an opportunity for them to meet the staff, find out more about the school and the early years (EYFS) curriculum.

  • Visit the preschools so that you can find out more about each child and collect any transition documents.

  • Some schools offer a home visit for each child. These visits are a nice opportunity for the child to show you their favourite books and toys. You might want to bring a school bag containing examples of uniform, PE kit, the school reading scheme, photographs of the classroom, etc.

  • Send a postcard to your new starters over the summer holidays, telling them how excited you are about them joining your class!

  • Find a great selection of classroom resources here. *

You will find lots of hands-on activities in my Etsy shop.

This ENGAGING preschool activity book is ideal for helping preschool children prepare for starting school! They will learn how to count, rhyme, hear initial sounds, name shapes, cut and stick and more with these FUN activities.

Clipart by Prawny at Pixabay

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