Skip to content
Night time park scene

Transitioning Between Home and Nursery

Managing daily transitions between home and nursery

By National Day Nurseries Association 

Being a busy parent brings with it many challenges. As well as being a parent, you may also be an employee, a carer, a partner and/or a survivor of illness. We all play different roles throughout the day. Trying to juggle different roles isn’t easy; our heads are full of lengthy lists and nursery drop off and pick up is just one of a number of jobs we have to get done. However, it is an important part of the day for babies and children. The transition and continuity between home and nursery can have a big impact on their emotional and intellectual development. Here we look at how to successfully manage the daily transition between nursery & home.

How can I make pick up time less stressful?

Establish boundaries. Children feel safe when they have clear and consistent boundaries. If these are very different between nursery and home then this confuse children and cause difficult behaviour. You should talk to your child’s key person about how behaviour is managed at nursery and at home and agree a consistent approach. Ongoing communication is vital for maintaining continuity in care for children.

NDNA logo

After your baby or child goes to bed, prepare their bag for the next day, making sure that you have everything ready to set off in the morning.

How important is playtime for my child?

Although you may be feeling exhausted after a long day, it is important to make time to play with your child.

NDNA logo

When your child asks you to play, it is their way saying they want to tell you about their day.

Babies and very young children communicate through their actions and behaviour. It is not until they are about three years old that they will have enough language to express their feelings and be able put into words what they have been up to.

How can I ensure playtime is productive and fun?

  • Games with rules – games such as ‘peek a boo’ or ‘Simon says’ can be played as you are putting babies and children in the car or on the journey home. These are great ways of helping develop turn taking and introducing rules. They can also be a good prompt for children to tell you about how their relationships with others are developing at nursery and any problems they might be having.
  • Creative play – put some music on in the kitchen while you are preparing the evening meal and dance with your child, watch how your child moves as this shows you how they are feeling. Hold your baby in your arms or if you have a child join hands and move together to show them how much you enjoy being with them. Help children put names to their feelings, for example you could try saying, ‘I can see that you’re really excited,’ or ‘You are looking very tired.’ This helps to develop their language skills for future conversations.
  • Pretend – as children become older they increasingly enjoy pretend play. Why not pretend that your kitchen is a café and give them some paper and pens to take other members of the family’s orders. If there are no other people around, pretend that teddies are hungry. You could also give your child some pots and pans and any peelings from vegetables and let them stir up their own magic soup
  • Physical – bath time is a great opportunity for physical play. You could ask your child to point to different body parts. You could provide a range of different sizes of empty bottles for children to fill and pour. During physical play, children will often provide a commentary about what they are doing. Listen to what they say as this often reflects their learning from through the day. For example, they may have been learning about sizes and quantity and have some new words to share. Build on what they say, introducing new words to increase their vocabulary. At the weekend, you could take a walk together and tell the nursery staff all about it.
  • Language – children love making up nonsense words and exploring sounds and rhythms of words. Try making up a funny bed time story, encouraging  children to introduce their ideas. You will learn more about your children’s experiences during the day as they often try to make sense of these through their storylines

Download a printable version

About the contributor

NDNA partnered with Acamar Films, producer of the award-winning preschool series Bing, to bring parents some helpful tips and suggestions to support them during the ups and downs of children’s transitions.

NDNA are the national membership organisation and the voice of day nurseries in the UK: the people behind the people who care, and champion the best for our children. By providing early years training, advice and guidance, we give your nursery the edge, an advantage that makes it the best it can be.


Related content


Toddler Tips

Read more
Classroom 3

What to expect when your child starts nursery

Read more
Bing Classroom 4

Five Tips for Settling your Child into a New Nursery

Read more
Episode 52 thumbnail image


Read more
Episode 46 thumbnail image


Read more
Episode 99 thumbnail image

Helping Hoppity

Read more