Transitions in early learning

Information on effective transitions into, between and beyond early learning services.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • All early learning services
  • Service managers
  • Educators, teachers and kaiako
  • Parents, caregivers and whānau

Transitions in early learning – into, within and beyond

Moving into a new environment is a time of change and adaptation for children, their whānau and teachers. This time of change, commonly referred to as a transition, involves forming new relationships, roles, and responsibilities, and spans the time between preparing for the move to a new environment, to when the child and whānau are more fully established members of the new community.

Transitions in the early years include:

  • Enrolling and participating at an early childhood education setting for the first time.
  • Moving from one age-specific area to another. For example, moving from under-twos to over-twos and afternoon kindergarten to morning.
  • Changing from one setting to another. For example, leaving kindergarten to start playcentre.
  • Entering a new group. For example, moving from the 'toddler group' to 'big kids'.
  • Starting school. For example, starting home-schooling or attending a local school.
  • How do you pay attention and respond to the transitions that children make during their time in your setting?

Individuals respond to change differently. Some may be excited, some take it in their stride, while others experience anxiety. During early childhood transitions whānau and even teachers can experience these emotions, as do transitioning children. Transition is an issue for every child, and their whānau, participating in an early childhood education setting, regardless of the type of early childhood education community they are a part of.

  • How does your setting support families and whānau at transitioning times?

A child does not adapt to, and cope with, change in isolation. Parents, whānau, families, siblings, peers, and teachers in the child's world all play an important part in facilitating the process of change with children. Teachers have a crucial role to play in supporting and scaffolding both the child and whānau as they navigate their way into unfamiliar environments.

  • How are you ready to scaffold each child's transition?
  • What processes are in place for supporting children during these transition times?

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