Transitions into New Child Care Settings

Any time a child moves from one childcare setting to another, it is considered a transition. Transition can take place within the same center when a child is assigned to a new classroom or if a child moves from one childcare center to another. The third type of transition is the transition from home/childcare to kindergarten.

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Classroom Transitions

One of the most common transitions children experience in a childcare setting is moving to a new classroom. This typically happens once a year and depending on the center and is planned either around the child’s birthday or the childcare center scheduled school year. Talk with the center director to learn how yearly transitions are handled and start talking with your child’s teacher near the transition time to learn more about your child's new classroom and teacher.

Questions to ask:

  • When will my child transition to a new classroom?
  • Will there be opportunities for them to visit the new classroom during the day?
  • What will the new schedule and routines look like?
  • How can I prepare my child for the transition?
  • What supplies will my child need to bring?

New Child Care Center Transitions

Transitioning to a new childcare center is another type of transition or change families may experience. When transitioning to a new childcare center, communicate with the new center about your family and child/children. You will be asked to provide a lot of information for each child you enroll. This includes vaccination records, some medical history (specifically allergies) and basic information about your child and family. Schedule a time to tour the center and ask questions about classrooms, ratios, group sizes, schedules and routines, teachers and curriculum. Share information about your child with the center ahead of time. If possible, take your child to see their new center and meet their new teacher to help with the transition process.

Helpful Tips

  • No matter the age, talk to your child about the changes
  • Ask the current teacher to write down notes for the new teacher
  • Allow time for your child to say goodbye to their old teachers and friends
  • If possible, stick to the same morning/evening routines as before
  • Be flexible with time at the beginning and think about scheduling half day trial runs or visits
  • If possible, aim for transitioning to the new center during the same time your child would transition to a new classroom

Transitions to Kindergarten

Whether your child is in a formal early childhood setting (childcare center or family childcare) or home with family or friends, at some point they will transition to kindergarten. Parents should understand they are their child’s first teacher and most basic skills are acquired through nurturing and exposure to experiences. If your child is enrolled in a childcare center, speak with the center director or teacher to learn what they are doing to prepare your child and how you can further support your child. Consider reaching out to your local school district for a kindergarten readiness checklist to learn what is expected and better prepare for this transition.

Helpful Tips

  • Explore books with your child
  • Read with your child daily and point to words as you read them. Encourage your child to hold the book and turn the pages as you read
  • Focus on different words and ask your child to try saying them. Read with expression
  • Have conversations with your child to build language skills
  • Talk with your child about thoughts, schedules and what is going on throughout the day
  • Encourage your child to talk about their thoughts, what they are doing during activities and how they are feeling
  • Work on fine motor skills, such as holding markers, pencils, small scissors and paper
  • Foster independence
  • Set up playdates to support social interaction and separation from familiar people
  • Take advantage of community activities that promote hands on learning experience
  • Encourage them to feed themselves and have them practice getting dressed independently

Most communities offer kindergarten readiness activities throughout the year for families and their children. Reach out to local school districts, family resource centers and libraries to learn more about what’s happening in your area.

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