Have you ever gone into a big building not knowing anyone and had the feeling of being lost and alone? Imagine that how a child feels as they come into a new child care setting where they have never been before and everyone there is a stranger. This can be a very scary situation. Let’s change that scary situation into a welcoming one!
Taking the time to plan for and execute a smooth transition can have a huge impact on the outcome for children, families and the program.
Allowing extra time for all of these things allows everyone’s stress levels to go down. It is critical that the new child’s needs for time are respected.
Depending on the age of your child, here are some suggestions you can try to help ease the transition:
Allow a new child to bring a comfort item from home, to be used when they are feeling stressed, as demonstrated through behavior or verbal cues.
It is okay to feel emotional during this time, especially if it’s your child’s first group care experience or if you have had a poor experience in the past.
This will help to start that relationship building that is so critical between families and caregiver. It is important that you feel good about where your child will be attending group care.
Communication is key to building your relationship with families. Both families and children can be highly emotional during the transition time, it is important that you plan for activities or routines that will help support both the family’s and the child’s transition into a new child care setting.
Preparing the other children in the program about a new member of their group can offer them an opportunity to share concerns they might have or to gauge who might make a good buddy for the new member of the group. Giving one or two of the children the job of welcoming their new friend in a specific way:
With good communication to help transition children between families and caregivers, you can change the felling of being lost and alone to a welcoming one.
Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc. 4C: Transitioning to Child Care
Effective Early Childhood Transitions: A Guide for Transition at Age Three – Early Start to Preschool
Family Education: Helping Your Child Adjust to Child Care
Kathryn Patricelli, MA: Transitioning into Child Care