What is the best way to transition a child from Toddler to a Primary environment?

This process begins with the parents/carers visiting the primary class into which their toddler will be transitioning. A primary class has many more children and materials, and the expectations regarding independence are quite different from those at home or in an Infant Community (IC).

Once parents have visited the primary and met with both the primary teacher and the IC teacher (if the child is in an IC) to address any questions the parent(s) might have, the child can visit the new environment.

The first visit is short – perhaps an hour – with the IC teacher showing the child other children they might know, materials they may be interested in; it certainly is advisable for the new child to experience snacks – with an older child in the primary.  Once the visit is completed, the child returns to the IC, or the parent comes to pick the child up. We all want the child’s primary experience to be a positive one.

Gradually the time in the class extends until the child is staying for the full morning, even perhaps lunch, but going home to nap (or back to the IC). After a couple of weeks of this process, the child can either go home at lunchtime or stay at school for lunch, a nap, and an afternoon session.

It is important during this transitioning process for the parents to be in communication with the primary teacher. If a parent feels anxious about the transition, this will be transmitted to the child and could result in some separation issues. Generally, when everyone is ready, things go very smoothly. If a child stays too long in an Infant Community, their needs are generally not addressed, deviated behaviours set in and the primary teacher may well decide the child is not ready for their class.

Children reading in a Montessori classroom