Froebelian principles, transition and children and their families.

Project author:

Project summary:

An interactive study which looks at how our Froebelian principles support transition in our setting and looking at how children and families’ perspectives inform transitions for children and families.


This project looks at how the practitioner’s current practice during transitions is informed by their knowledge and understanding of two of the Froebelian principles, ‘Relationships Matter’, ’The Value of Childhood in its own Right’ and how children and families’ perspectives inform transitions.  Our aim is to improve transitions into and within the setting for all children and families, allowing this to develop at their pace.  Policies that supported this project were Falkirk Council and Inchlair Transition Policies, Realising the Ambition.


Before beginning this project, our practitioners thought our transition process was linked well to the Froebelian principles and Transition Policies was updated recently to include these.  Our children and families participate in reviewing our policies so therefore it is hoped that their perspectives are considered during transitions. When deciding on my project I had noticed from day-to-day experiences that our transitions could support children and families better. Some staff were not confident in slowing down the process when a child wasn’t settling, and I noticed that some parents did not fully understand the transition process.

I had to consider the methods I was going to use and the number of participants I wanted to involve.  I wanted to consider the perspectives of children and families starting nursery for the first time.  I also looked at children transitioning from the 2’s room to 3-5 room, taking into account that several practitioners work with the two different age groups.   I chose to give questionnaires to practitioners and interview 3 children and their families. I had to consider the level of understanding of the children as to what they were being asked and interviews gave me the opportunity to explain my question in different ways if necessary.


My research was to look at how our knowledge of Froebelian principles and the perspectives of children and families inform transitions. I had to consider the methods of research I would use, based on the knowledge and understanding of the children and families. The questions had to be simple and not over complicated to get a true reflection of their experiences.  I wanted all participants to understand that a true reflection of transitions was important to enable us to improve our service based on the children and family needs during such an important time.   I also made sure all participants including children understood that they could withdraw from this enquiry at any time. I also assured them that the information they shared would be anonymous. I felt that explaining this to all participants the research was carried out in a very relaxed manner and the participants were honest with their answers.

“All transitions involve change, and many involve loss or separation, and children need careful preparation and reassurance to help them remain and manage the changes. It is important to talk to children and listen to their fears. It is also helpful to organise visits, provide information and plan activities for induction”. Tina Bruce, Early childhood a guide for students. P298


Having knowledge of our Froebelian principles and the Realising the Ambition document, our practitioners had awareness of the importance of positive horizontal and vertical transitions within the setting. The setting already had a transition policy in place however through my research and professional dialogue with colleagues we were able to make the following findings and set about making positive changes to the way our setting handles transitions and how we include our children and family’s perspectives.

The questionnaires completed by practitioners highlighted that although most transitions worked well, some children struggled with the length of visits being extended and staff did not always feel confident in reducing the times of visits if the pace was not suited to individual children. Practitioners felt that these conversations could often be sensitive especially when reducing the hours as parents were often keen to have the children stay in nursery longer and they did not have a shared understanding that transition was a slow process which would support their child to settle confidently into this new routine.  Practitioners expressed that building good positive relationships right from the first visit to the setting and a home visit was important to help everyone involved feel comfortable and confident. During these conversations they wanted children and families to understand that they had their best interests at centre of all decisions. Most of the practitioners also agreed that transitional objects were beneficial during transitions especially for our younger children. However, it was highlighted that we needed to help our parents understand that transitional objects are something the child would use at home for comfort, so therefore helping the child feel safe and secure in the setting as they had something familiar with them till their confidence grew.

The parents and children interviewed felt that their child’s transition had gone well and that through discussions with their child’s keyworker they had been included in the decisions being made for their children. They also felt that our setting was allowing their child to feel valued and respected.    Only one of the children we had permission to be interviewed had engaged in answering the questions and he was able to discuss how his nursery lady had come to visit his house and as he recalled this event he was giggling and said, “she played with toys at my house”.

Upon reflection If I was to do this project again, I would re-think my research method for the children as I felt the children didn’t understand my questions.


The practitioner enquiry has provided us with evidence that although staff and parents feel that our transitions work well, practitioners felt they should be able to slow down the process if a child is not settling well.  Staff felt it was important to have positive relationship with families, so they felt comfortable whilst discussing strategies to adapt the settling visits for shorter/longer periods to enable our children to feel safe, secure and comfortable. We also found that having the knowledge of a transitional object and how it is used can be beneficial for the child to feel happy and confident in their new environment.  Our findings will also impact our future transition policies and settings transitions.  We also propose to share our findings with practitioners and families on our family gatherings sessions in the future to ensure our shared knowledge has more positive outcomes for our children and families.

Research implications

To be completed

Practitioner enquiry

To be completed

Leadership learning

To be completed

Author and role

To be completed

Comments from other network members

What did you appreciate about this research? What forward-looking questions did it raise for you?

  1. Laura Brown
    Laura Brown
    24 Mar 2024 at 9:23 am

    I really enjoyed reading this project. I understand that some staff and unfortunately parents struggle with slowing the transition process down to meet the needs of the child.
    As a nursery working towards their Flagship we could also focus on how we could link our transition to the Froebelian principles and create a new and updated policy with our families.
    Well done on your project.

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  2. Kirsty McFarlane
    Kirsty McFarlane
    25 Mar 2024 at 7:04 pm

    A very interesting read and something to think about. All children are different and therefore, may take longer to settle than others. Your project highlights the importance of tailoring settling in visits and the transition process to the individual child’s pace and needs. This is crucial to get right for the child and their family. Well done.

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  3. Donna Green
    Donna Green
    27 Mar 2024 at 1:23 pm

    Well done Tracy and Linda for your dedication to enabling this practitioner Inquiry to get to this point. I feel this articulates your Inquiry very well and supports linking to a Froebelian principled approach which you strive to do in every day practice.
    It is good that you have been honest in relation to your reflection as this will support moving forward. 😊

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