Transitioning from home to early childhood education and care settings
Starting to go to an early childhood education and care setting such as long day care or kindergarten is a significant milestone for children and their families. Preparation can positively impact on how your family experiences this milestone.
On this page:
Planning the transition
Communicate with your child’s early
childhood education and care setting
Support for children at early childhood education and care settings
Access further information about supporting your child
Read more about communicating with educators in our parent guide to parent-educator meetings.
Where appropriate, the early childhood education and care setting should organise applications for additional funding, and will work with you to do this.
You may also wish to become familiar with practical guides and information from DET on learning in the early years, and on support services and packages for young children with developmental challenges or disabilities.
Supporting your child with the transition
A child with a disability or developmental challenge may feel anxious about the upcoming changes and so may you! These are a few strategies that may help your child with the transition:
Attend a transition program
Help your child be prepared
Consider how you communicate with your child
Consider how you might communicate with the community
Support for separation anxiety
Read positive stories about early childhood education and care settings
If this is not available, consider asking if you can visit and stay with your child for short periods of time and build these visits up. You may want to organise for your child to explore the settings inside and outdoors, and know where the toilets and quiet areas of the room are located.
If this is your child’s first experience in a group setting, you may also want to consider increasing your child’s social experiences. Playgroups are a great option and some playgroups cater for families with specific needs (see for example, PlayConnect Playgroups (for children with autism).
Other relevant experiences may include AllPlay Footy and AllPlay Dance. Have a look at the resources available to see if these types of activities might be a good fit for your child.
You may also want to aim to have little change in your family’s everyday life apart from this transition to provide a calm and relaxed environment prior to and during change.
- Inviting one of your child’s health professionals to come to your child’s room and talk about the disability or developmental challenge
- Writing a short letter for families about your child
- Availability of training or professional development opportunities for educators about your child’s disability or developmental challenge
You may prefer not to disclose your child’s diagnosis – there is no right way and the educators should support you in whatever decision you make.
Talk with your child’s educators to support you and your child. They could consider evidence-based strategies from our educator’s page about anxiety, including our anxiety resource toolkit to recognise and support child anxiety.
Some children’s first experience at an early childhood education and care setting may be when they enrol in a kindergarten program. If this is your experience, the considerations above should be helpful for planning and supporting your child through this transition.
Some children will begin kindergarten at a long day care they are already attending as many four year old (funded) kindergarten programs are increasingly being run within long day care centres. In this case, your child may only need help adjusting to a new (usually slightly more structured) routine within a familiar space, and to a new educator. Talk with your childcare educators to fully understand what the key differences will be for your child’s day-to-day experience at long day care.
Some children might join a kindergarten program at a different long day care centre or at a community kindergarten. If this is your experience, keep in mind that your child already has experience in a group setting by being at long day care. This means that your child will already have some practice spending time with other children and will have developed trust in other adults. Remember what worked well when first transitioning your child between home and long day care and try to replicate this.