The transition from home to an early years setting for the first time is a significant milestone and can be a big step for both children and families.
As an educator, you play an important role in helping make these big steps smaller.
Whether a child’s learning journey begins at an occasional care service, long day care service or kindergarten, the transition to care outside of home and family can be a special, exciting and overwhelming time.
Through actively engaging with families, sharing valuable information, working collaboratively and encouraging open communication, educators can support families to navigate this period of change so the transition from home to the early years setting is a positive and successful experience (Quality Area 6 – Collaborative partnerships with families and communities).
Take the time to reflect on each child and family’s individual needs, strengths and experiences. It is likely that adjustments may be needed to respond to the differing family contexts, prior experiences of children and current staffing at the service.
With a better understanding of the individual child, parents, carers and teachers can work together to provide the tools and supports children need to develop a sense of belonging, building a bridge of familiar connection between home and their new setting.
Together, let’s make the big moves smaller.
Fostering collaborative partnerships with families
Services can plan for and maximise collaborative partnerships in a number of ways, such as:
flipping conversations about the service from teacher talk to parent/carer talk, e.g. ‘welcome to our [insert name of service], what would you like to know about our service?’
inviting parents/carers to share information about their children’s likes, interests and/or challenges and use prompting questions to explore topics in more detail
using social media platforms to post simple videos about the service, inviting prospective families to visit and/or ask questions. Use these as an opportunity to emphasise your approach to working in collaboration with families.
8 transition tips to share with families at your service
There are a number of ways families can ease the transition and help children enjoy a positive start to their early learning journey. Share these suggestions with families.
Take time to introduce the early years setting in safe and comfortable ways in the days, weeks and months before the child is due to start.
Establish drop off and re-connection rituals and routines at both home and the service to ensure this process is as calm and uncomplicated as possible.
Make comforting connections between home and care by sharing family photos, favourite books, music or special words, cultural celebrations and observances that the service can incorporate into their environment and program. Let the child carry a favourite toy, blanket or item between home and the service because it will carry with it the comforting memories, smells and textures of home.
Consistently mirror the daily routines and rituals of rest, sleep, mealtimes, hygiene, toileting and behaviour management at home and at the early years setting wherever possible.
Tune into the child’s behaviours. Be aware of any changes and offer them nurturing support and reassurance. Follow up with the service throughout the day if there is anything they are concerned about or if they need some reassurance and comfort themselves.
Take time to reconnect with your child every day. Have special time to cuddle and read stories together before and after they spend time apart.
Talk frequently and often with your child’s educators and carers to ensure they are sharing the stories and updates of what milestones, events, people and experiences are happening in a child’s life. This may include using a communication book and online portal to share photos and information.
Encourage involvement in the early years program. Many services encourage and enjoy families sharing their time, art, culture, cooking, language and experience and will gladly involve parent/carers in their roster of activities and learning, cultural events and celebrations.
Transitions in the early years
Quality Area 6 – Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
Transitions in learning communities
Transitions for babies and toddlers