The first five years in children’s lives lay the foundation for their cognitive and social development and learning prowess over the course of their lives. In terms of global awareness, the field of Early Childhood Development (ECD) has gained prominence and several countries – including South Africa – are now implementing innovative policies, curricula, strategies and parenting programs to advance young children’s development and social abilities. The democracy-era government in South Africa has focused increasingly on improvements to ECD and Grade R policies. Although the South African government created a legislative framework to ensure the accessibility of ECD services to all 4–5-years-old children, they failed to prioritise the hiring of qualified practitioners who could employ their skills and knowledge of child development to smoothen children’s transitions from home to school life. Consequently, unqualified practitioners are often tasked with managing young children’s transitions without adequate skill sets and support systems. Most children in disadvantaged communities are still taught by unqualified practitioners.
The purpose of this research was to formulate a training framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) practitioners to increase their competencies in facilitating children’s transitions. The study was designed to identify all the key components of a suitable training framework that would enable ECEC practitioners to design high-quality transitioning programmes at their schools. The conceptual framework for the study included Piaget and Erikson’s child development theory, Schlossberg’s theory on transition and Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. The researcher conducted a qualitative study employing purposive sampling to select relevant research sites and participants. The data collection strategies included structured interviews with practitioners, field observations of practitioners’ practices and a compilation of children’s drawings. The findings, conclusions and recommendations centred on these dominant themes: children’s response to a transition, transition processes and teacher-training regime.