Supporting Transitions and Getting Ready for School

The transition from nursery to school is a significant change for a child and is one that Bright Horizons nurseries support through our Ready for School approach. Caroline, our Early Childhood Director, shares more information about this approach, and suggests a few ways you can help from home.

Starting school is about so much more than learning to read and write or recognising numbers and letters, it is a time when a child will encounter new routines, new experiences, new people and new situations.

The theory of attachment (Bowlby, Ainsworth) tells us that young children need to form strong attachments to their carers in order to feel emotionally secure. Your child may have formed a strong bond with their key worker and nursery practitioners, but we now have to help them to feel confident to form relationships with their new teachers in school. We also know that preschoolers form attachments to ‘things’ and ‘places’ – so moving to another room/school can be difficult.

Our nurseries have many academic ways they support and help children to become ‘school ready’, but we also help them learn how to settle into new routines and most importantly, feel safe and secure in their new school environment.

New expectations and a lower adult to child ratio makes it important that each child is as independent and confident as they can be for managing toileting needs, getting dressed and undressed for PE, self-serving at mealtimes and getting coats on for playtime. Our Ready for School approach supports preschool children who are moving to school next term in becoming confident and independent in tasks such as:

  • Looking after their own belongings
  • Managing their own personal hygiene needs
  • Changing for PE
  • Managing their lunch independently
  • Putting their hand up to ask or respond to a question

The transition from nursery to school is made as smooth as possible from subtle changes at the beginning of the final year to more defined activities as the time for school approaches.

Learning activities and experiences at Bright Horizons are designed, planned and supported to lay the pedagogical foundations that prepares every child to ‘be ready to read’: confidently equipped with the desire, vocabulary and language-deciphering skills they have developed through experiences that are meaningful to them. To approach the world with curiosity and have the knowledge and skills that lead to success in maths and science: growing an understanding of numbers, growing a curiosity for the properties of shapes and how they can connect together, growing a fascination for the natural world around them and growing an investigative approach to finding out how things work. Children have been developing their executive functioning skills such as:

  • Problem solving
  • Planning
  • Organising
  • Working with others
  • Memory
  • Managing emotions

These are all a part of a set of processes for managing ourselves and our resources in order to achieve a goal and be successful.

Here are a few ideas how you can help your child feel ready and prepared:

  • Talk to your child at home about the changes that are coming up and listen to their questions and concerns.
  • Ask them questions and encourage them to talk to you about how they are feeling.
  • Be sympathetic and understand that your child might be more ‘clingy’ than usual, and once they start they are likely to be more tired at the end of the day. This is all normal. Remember how you might have felt when you started a new job or moved house and didn’t know any of your neighbours or workmates.
  • Use the name of the new teacher when you’re talking about the move and ask for a photograph if you think it might help your child feel more prepared.
  • Make sure that personal belongings are clearly labelled before your child starts school, otherwise your child will be very sad if they get lost.
  • When they start, try to allow time to help your child say ‘goodbye’ at the beginning of the day so that you don’t have to ‘drop and run’. Five minutes to hand them over to their class teacher will be worth it in the long run.


If your child is starting school this year, we do hope they are looking forward to it and thank you for allowing us to be a part of your child’s learning journey – all the best for the next chapter.

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