Transitions To and From Child Care

Transitioning to new child care can be difficult for your child and for your family. However, there are many strategies that can make the transition easier. A good way to begin is by looking at what exactly is happening—your behavior, the environment, and your child’s behavior, in particular. What can you do to prevent problems and prepare yourself and your child for transitions? 


Parents have found the following strategies helpful in preventing problems: 

  • Give yourself 10 minutes of quiet before you wake up your child or start your day. 
  • Think about what you know about your child. What will help make the morning more pleasant? The following ideas may work for you:
    • Play calming music instead of turning the television on.
    • Create a quiet reading area with a basket of your child’s favorite books.
    • Turn the light on in your child's bedroom five minutes before waking him or her.
    • If your child has trouble waking up, plan to give them three wake-up calls. 
  • Get things ready the night before:
    • Put out clothes, shoes, coats, and gloves, for you and your child.
    • Set up breakfast.
    • Pack backpacks.
    • Find your keys.         
  • Create clear and consistent rituals.


Strategies for successful transitions to your child care program: 

  • Leave your child with the same caregiver every day. 
  • Tell your caregiver about significant things happening at home that are important to your child.
  • Have a good-bye ritual so your child knows you are leaving. Tell your child when you will be back (for example, after nap time and group play).
  • Leave a picture, a scarf that smells like you, or some other “lovey” in your child’s cubby so that your child will have it when he or she needs comforting.


Strategies for successful transitions from child care to home:

  • Take time to relax before you pick up your child—even 3 to 5 minutes can make a difference.
  • Try to arrive about the same time every day. 
  • Find out from your caregiver what happened during your child’s day. 
  • Plan to have time with your child as soon as you get home.  
  • Plan calming activities for your child while you prepare dinner. Let your child help you with dinner, read, play with Play-Doh, play in water, color, or listen to relaxing music. 
  • Encourage everyone in the family to get enough sleep, eat healthy and exercise.