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Parent guide update: transitions

Whether it’s moving rooms, changing nursery or starting Primary School – transitions can be difficult for your little one.

So to help, in this guide, we’ve explored the best ways to help you support your little one before and during a transition.

Let’s dive straight in!

But first, what do we mean by ‘transitions’?

Transitions in the Early Years are all about the changes that all children experience during childhood – this can include starting at a new nursery or primary school, moving class, moving home, going on holiday etc.

When it comes to these transitions parents should keep the following in mind:

• It’s not possible to remove all stress from a transition but there are things you can do to reduce it. Most importantly your little one needs to feel safe and comfortable with the adult they’re with.

This relationship is particularly important when it comes to babies and toddlers as they rely on emotional support from adults as they don’t yet have the social skills to lean on friends.

• Young children are quite well-versed in reading body language and tones of voice. If your little one senses that you’re anxious, their stress level will increase.

• It’s important that your child experiences positive transitions in early childhood as these will act as templates for the way they will deal with change in the future.

• All nurseries and schools have a system in place to support children going through transitions.

If your little one is starting at a new nursery chat with the nursery manager ahead of time and come up with an effective plan together.

• The way your child will adapt to transitions is affected by their personality. Children who are more extroverted often find it easier to cope with meeting new people and being in new situations.

While introverted children will take time to get used to new people and are less adventurous - so may need longer to settle in.

Every little butterfly is different and it’s important to cater the transition period to their specific needs!

Keeping these things in mind, here are some top tips for supporting your little one during a transition.


Transitions can be made less stressful if your little one is familiar with what’s about to happen.

This is why in nurseries settling-in sessions are so important and why it’s always important to visit the nursery at least once before registering.

There are other ways you can help your child become more familiar with a transition that is about to happen.

For example, if your child is about to transition to primary school and will need to wear a uniform, you can let them wear it for a week or so beforehand.

You can also walk by the school or nursery so that your little one becomes used to the new journey and the idea of going there.

Finally, you can speak to them! Explain and discuss what is about to happen and why it’s exciting so they can get used to the idea.

Goodbye routines

Develop a goodbye routine if you haven’t already.

To practice this, you can leave your little one with a family member, friend etc. for a few minutes.

Something simple like ‘two kisses and bye-bye’ can be very useful. This will make leaving overall a more positive experience.

Be sure to keep it short as dragging it out will only intensify the tears.

First Days

Lots of children cope better with a transition if they have had a relaxed morning. This is because their stress level is lower than children who may have had a bumpy start to the day.

While it’s totally normal to struggle to get out of the door on time packed, fed and dressed, it’s worth planning to be super organised for the days before and after the transition in order to give your little one a better start to the day.

Most importantly make sure your little one gets plenty of sleep as tired children can struggle with transitions more.

Finally, remember it may take some time for your child to settle in. If they seem very distressed or you are worried, then speak to someone about your concerns.

It may be that your child needs some additional settling in time, a change in routine or some additional support.

Additional Resources


Thanks for reading!


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