Children are involved in numerous transitions as part of their everyday lives

Introduction
Children go through various transitions as they grow up. These transitions have various purposes for children, families, and educators. For children, the transitions promote the wellbeing and development for every child. The transitions enable children to learn and develop various skills such as self-regulating skills essential for managing transitions in later life. For parents, transitions give them an opportunity to support children in learning new experiences and skills. Additionally, the transitions enable educators to lead children through effective learning. However, for children to have smooth transitions, parents and educators must work in partnerships. Various examples and strategies show the importance of relational pedagogy. First, children, families, and educators face various challenges with the transitions necessitating the relations. Second, the need for family-centred practices shows the importance of the pedagogy. Other factors showing the importance of relational pedagogy include the need to cater for diverse families, need to plan effectively transitions, and the strategy of having educators act as facilitators.
Functions of transitions for children, families and educators
Transitions for children within and from early childhood settings have different functions. Transitions are central to emotional well-being and development for children. The way in which these early transitions are handled determines how children cope with changes in later life. Through the transitions, children learn self-regulating skills (Kennedy, 2013). The self-regulating skills are essential as kids learn how to handle frustrating or challenging experiences. In early childhood settings, children are still learning how to manage and control their feelings and behaviors. When the go through the transitions successfully, they develop cognitive, behavioural, and emotional self-regulation skills essential for managing any other transitions. The skills are also essential in helping children to gain knowledge in all learning domains (Kennedy, 2013). Transitions present every child with opportunities of developing strategies for managing the behaviors and emotions.
Transitions help children to develop a sense of time and place. As children go through transitions from one place to another, they start remembering the locations of their objects. They slowly learn the characteristics of familiar places such as home, and school setting. At this point, they start developing a mature sense of place. The transitions help them to form a mental map of how their home or classroom are arranged. This enables them to start connecting certain activities with particular locations eventually having the ability to function independently in these environments (Fordham & Johnston, 2014). The transitions also help children to anticipate routines. For instance, they can tell when its mealtime. Therefore, the transitions help them in developing a mature sense of time.
Transitions are important for the successful development and learning for every child. However, sometimes, the transitions can be stressful for children. This is where the role of families and educators come in. Families and educators play an important role in successful transitions (Fordham & Johnston, 2014). When children are well supported, they are able to develop and learn to their full potential. Children are able to develop their full potential when their individual needs are given attention. Educators are incapable of knowing the individual needs of every child unless the get the information from families. This calls for a collaboration between learner, families and educators. Will the collaboration, families are at ease that their children will get proper support, and engaging parents make them feel supported and respected as parents (Fordham & Johnston, 2014). Families understand better their children and therefore know how every child can be supported. Therefore, they have a role in sharing any information that can help an educator to facilitate a smooth transition for a child leading to successful learning and development.
Transitions give families and educators opportunities to help children learn and develop successfully. Educators have a role of working together with families to ensure that children develop to their full potential (Fordham & Johnston, 2014). After gathering information about every child from their family, educators focus on preparing proper and smooth transitions for the children. By creating strong attachments, families and educators enable children to regulate emotions and behaviors. The attachments are associated with successful social and emotional development for the children in addition to high levels of wellbeing. Since, transitions are vital for children development, families and educators are expected to carefully plan and facilitate the transitions to promote the wellbeing of every child (Fordham & Johnston, 2014).
For educators, transitions are essential for effective learning. Through the transitions, children learn new techniques, concepts, and skills. Educators build on existing experiences, to plan for learning continuity. By promoting continuity, educators create a program that maximizes learning opportunities for every child (Touhill, 2012). By giving children the opportunity to repeatedly engage with new knowledge and opportunities to develop new skills and understandings, learning becomes deep, rich, and more important. Educators and families have a role of working together to prepare children for smooth transitions within early education settings (Sukkar et al., 2016). Through the collaboration, equips families and educators with knowledge of how child development influences the response to transitions. By knowing the level of skills in motor and cognitive development from families, educators are able to successfully support children in exploring and learning about new experiences (Touhill, 2012). Educators are thus responsible for supporting children as well as their families during transitions essential for proper learning and development.
Examples and strategies that highlight the importance of relational pedagogy in supporting children’s transitions
Research shows that children, families, and educators go through various transitional challenges. For the children they are usually afraid about their wellbeing. They have fears about their safety and the support they would get in the new environment. They are not sure about their identify status and are unsure of their roles and responsibilities. For their families, they have fears on how their child will be treated, whether the child will be able to cope, and wonder how the educators will understand their toddler (Fordham & Johnston, 2014). On the other hand, the educators wonder how to individualize the transition for each child, whether the transition policies are supportive of every child’s wellbeing, and whether to involve other people to enhance the transition process (Papatheodorou, n.d). All these challenges show the importance of relational pedagogy.
To improve the transition process, there is a need for good relations between learner, family, and educators. This helps in building an actual community of learners. The relations help in promoting wellbeing and self-awareness of every child. A collaboration between educators and families enhance the transitions for children within and from early childhood settings. With supportive relationships the transitions are smooth (Fordham & Johnston, 2014). First, families are experts concerning their children. They also know how their family functions. This information is essential in supporting every child to have smooth transitions. Relational pedagogy is crucial to the development of every child.
The strategy of using family-centred practice in early childhood education shows the importance of relational pedagogy within and from early childhood settings. Throughout history, it has been recognised that the outcomes of children in terms of learning and development are improved by effective and strong partnerships between families and educators (Rouse, 2012). In these partnerships, shared decisions are made, and common goals shared. A lot of research exists showing the importance of partnership in education especially in early years. The family-centred model is based on the argument that a family is pivotal in the life of a child. It should thus be empowered to participate in make decisions for the child. The model originates from ecological systems theory which holds that a child exists in a wider context of family and society and the system is interconnected. Whatever affects one member affects the other in the system (Rouse, 2012). The child and the family are inseparable. Members of the system are then influenced by a broader system of educational, political, and social policies.
These policies shape the expectations, equality, and perceptions of the relations that exist between the systems. The fact that every family has some strengths requires that the families are empowered and made active in making decisions for their children. By empowering families, educators help them to take part in solving problems that arise in giving help to the children especially during transitions. Empowered families are able to acquire important behaviors that are required to effectively control themselves and their children (Rouse, 2012). The core principles of this strategy involve creating relations between families and educators that are characterised by various factors including being sensitive about culture, inclusiveness, respect for each person’s expertise and knowledge, and promoting informed family choice.
The diversity of families in Australia shows the importance of relational pedagogy in supporting successful transitions for children (Kennedy, 2017). Unlike before, families are currently different. For instance, today children are brought up either through biological parenting, adoption, step parenting, or through in vitro fertilisation. Other children are brought up by guardians. When it comes to nuclear family structure, diversity is also being observed. Families are now characterised by a single parent, two parents, grandparents, or same sex parents. To help children develop and learn successfully in the early years, educators must make sure that they understand and respect the diversity of families (Kennedy, 2017). This way they are able to understand the abilities, culture, and interests of every child. This brings the issue of relational pedagogy and shows how important it is within early childhood education.
It is only by engaging families that educators can be able to understand and appreciate diversity essential for planning successful learning and development for the children. By developing relations with families, educators are able to create relations that are respectful, caring, dignified, and nurturing. Such relations are essential for expanding the knowledge and understanding of children and promoting their wellbeing during transitions. The increasing complexity in the meaning of a family shows the importance of relational pedagogy in early childhood services (Kennedy, 2017). Diverse families need to collaborate with educators to improve the transitions of their children.
The learner, in this case in the early years, is not an empty vessel that needs to be filled. Children have knowledge and experiences which they use as lenses to understand new information and make personal meaning essentially informing their actions. This shows the importance of relational pedagogy (Papatheodorou & Moyles (Eds.), n.d). It is only through relations between educators and learners that these lenses can be used to help children understand new information. Through such relations, children are supported to become partners when it comes to their education. Through relational pedagogy, infinite attention is required to the other. The attention does not involve making the other person be like us. It involves supporting children to develop independently (Harrison, 2016). It involves allowing children to develop as individuals with their own desires and rights. Through relational pedagogy, educators act as facilitators. With support from families, they are able to identify the needs of every child eventually providing the help that every child requires.
Let’s look at an example, an educator provides lumps of clay to a child. The educator and the child are busy working on their sculptures. The child is facilitated in using various tools and in handling clay in various ways. The child is also given freedom to decide on what materials fit better with clay while making the sculpture. The educator doesn’t give the child specific instructions and guidance. Instead, the educator looks at what the child is trying to do and then gives guidelines on that. Eventually, the child is able through facilitation to manipulate clay and produce a meaningful sculpture. The example shows that learning and relationships coincide (Papatheodorou & Moyles (Eds.), n.d). With reciprocity, dialogue and exchange, the relations equip learners to become partners in their learning. Without such a supportive relationship between a child and an educator, it would be impossible to witness a child’s educational success and progress.
The strategy of planning effective transitions for children show the importance of relational pedagogy within early education settings. Children go through many transitions. To avoid stressful conditions for children, family, or educators, the transitions require proper planning and attention (Fordham & Johnston, 2014). With proper planning, a calm environment is created which promotes learning and development for children and also helps in setting a positive tone. Proper planning involves making a child comfortable and familiar with early education service. This is only possible when educators use information from families. For instance, through collaboration with a family, an educator may learn the love of tactile materials by a certain child. With this information, an educator can introduce the child to new play experiences but using the tactile materials which are familiar to the child (Fordham & Johnston, 2014). By collaborating with families, educators get a better understanding of every child which helps in adapting best practices for meeting these needs. Relational pedagogy is important for supporting all transitions for children.
Reflection
Clearly, children just as adults go through various transitions especially in early childhood education (Fordham & Johnston, 2014). The transitions can be smooth for the children or stressful depending on the support they get. If the transitions are smooth, then children will experience successful learning and development. They will easily face changes even in their later life. However, if the transitions are stressful, they will have challenges in learning and developing (Dockett & Perry, 2016). For successful transitions for children, families, and educators, there is a need for partnerships. Encouraging partnerships between families and educators will make the transitions smooth for all concerned people. Children will successful learn and develop by managing the transitions. Families will support the children through successful learning and development. Educators on the other hand will have smooth processes as they help children go through the transitions. Through the collaboration, families will provide information that will guide educators in identifying individual needs for the children.
With this information, educators will then be able to make effective plans for helping every child to develop to their full potential. Even in making transition policies, educators are able to focus on key issues from the perspectives of children. By partnering with parents, relevant information is shared and responsibilities clarified supporting transitions for every child and continuity of learning without which new learning can be difficult (Dockett & Perry, 2016). Children are always trying to understand changes in their lives. In transitioning from home to early learning settings, both children and families are filled with anxiety. Families are unsure whether the children will get proper support or whether they will adapt to the changes (Harrison, 2016). Implementing an approach of doing things to children and their families only create more anxiety. However, taking an approach that supports consultation and collaboration creates a sense of belong to children and their families. This is associated with successful learning and development for children.
Conclusion
It is clear that children go through various transitions especially in early learning settings. The purpose of these transitions is to enable children to learn new experiences and skills for successful learning and development. The transitions enable families and educators to support children through effective learning. For smooth, transitions, children require adult support and guidance. Educators can’t be able to help every child without understanding their individual needs. Therefore, they must partner with families to successfully guide both children and families through the transitions. Various factors show the importance of relational pedagogy in supporting the transitions within early learning settings. These are; various challenges that children, families, and educators face during the transitions, need for family-centred practices, need to cater for diverse families, strategies for planning effective transitions, and need to include children in their learning. To successfully help children manage their transitions, it is important to have collaboration between families and educators. This will help in promoting successful learning and development for the children in early learning settings.
References
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