Transitions Into Child Care

When a child begins care in a new program, it can sometimes be difficult for the child and the parents to adjust. Most children will experience some level of separation anxiety — especially if it is their first time in child care. Here are some things you can do to make the transition smoother for everyone.

  • Provide a transitional schedule, where you have the child ease into the program by attending on a staggered schedule at the beginning — even if for only a day or so.
  • Have the child bring in family photos from home to share with teachers and other children.
  • Help parents to make good-byes short and sweet; encourage them not to drag good-byes out, which can make the separation harder for both parent and child.
  • Help parents to establish a good-bye ritual if it helps with the transition (for example, saying good-bye at the same door or window each morning).
  • Have the child bring in a "transitional object": a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or toy.
  • Make it clear that parents can call at anytime during the day to check in and see how their child is doing.
  • Encourage parents to pick up at the same time every day during the transitional period, so that the child can learn what to expect and have a secure routine to rely on.
  • Make sure to check in with parents at the end of the day, and let them know how their child's day went.
  • Provide a lot of empathy and reassurance to children and parents; explain that these feelings are normal and that their child will adjust very soon.
  • Adapt the program during the beginning of the year to welcome children in a low-key way, and plan activities that are inviting, rather than over-stimulating.
  • Plan to have a parent's night during the first few months of the year, during which parents can get to know the teachers and each other.

Page last updated: Aug 1, 2013