Transitioning your Child from Home to an Early Childhood Education Setting

Starting the journey to join an Early Childhood Education service is a huge milestone for you and your family. These transitions are often met with anticipation, excitement, anxiety over the unknown, which can cause transitions to be stressful and overwhelming. There are few things that you can do to support you and your child in starting your Early Childhood Education journey. 


Making Time

Allowing enough time before your child starts at the service to build a positive relationship around going to an Early Childhood Education setting. Talking to your child about the fun things they can do and all the new friends that they can make at the service. Talking to your service about ways you can begin your transition journeys such as starting off with shorter days and completing an orientation program where you can stay for short lengths of time with your child at the service. Children are observant learners and will look at the ways their parent interact and react to the educators of the service for guidance on if this new environment is a safe place.  


Create a Routine

Starting a routine of what your mornings will look like before they start care can help with the overwhelming feeling of the unknown children often experience before they start at the service. Getting your child involved in packing their own bags, getting themselves dressed and excited for their days ahead. Allowing your child to take a small comforter from home can help them to feel safe and settle into their new environments easier. Bringing family photos help your child to develop their sense of belonging within their service. Just make sure you label any items from home so they don’t get lost!


Build Relationships

Once your child has started their education journey, maintaining your relationship with the educators and the service allows you and your family to share in the milestones of your child’s life and helps the service become a part of your community for you and your child. Using your relationships with the service and your child, you can support your child in feeling proud of their participation by asking questions about the things you know they have done throughout the day. Such as “What did you have for lunch today?” “Who did you play in the sandpit with?” and “Which story did you read today after snack time?”. Supporting your child in becoming excited about their day helps to promote a love of learning and excitement to return to the service. \


Managing Anxiety

It is common for children to experience anxiety during drop offs. We can support children experiencing these struggles by talking to the educators of the service and creating plans to support these high stress transitions together. Creating a predictable routine for you and your child could look like “give mummy a big squeeze, to the count of 5, then turn to your educator and give them a big squeeze, for the count of 5, as we wave good-bye to mummy through the windows.” Or “take daddy to put your bag away, come get some toast and sit on the table. Wave to daddy and say see you later daddy.” Routine eases anxiety as your child can feel comfortable knowing what is going to happen, and there is comfort in the familiarity of consistent people and activities. As hard as it can be to leave a sad child, your service is there to support you and your family. Sometimes that means relying on these strategies and educators so parents can feel comfortable leaving their child – even when their child is upset. A smooth and quick drop off helps most children settle quicker, if their parent stays too long it can add to the anticipation and anxiety of the child. Creating trusting relationships with the service allows you to feel confident that if things are still not good once you have left, they will contact you and let you know. 

These strategies are a great starting point to managing transitions with your child. If you ever feel unsure, speak with the educators at your child’s service to discuss the right supports for you and your child. 


Shannon Incledon   |   Trainer Assessor


Promoting positive education and care transitions for children | Australian Institute of Family Studies (

Moving to an early years setting (