Settling-in sessions - why they're so important for 0-5 year olds

February 12, 2018

Starting with a new childcare provider is daunting, as a childminder and a parent I understand just how tough this period of time can be. It might be the first time that your child has ever been away from you (their parents/carers) or if they are used to spending time with other people it may be the first time that they are in a larger group or visiting a new type of environment.


The reason why settling-in sessions are so important is because children get a chance to know the setting and their new childminder, all whilst their parents are present hence they are able to feel secure whilst forming an bond with their new carer. 



5 Step Settling-in Process


Penny Tassoni - an education consultant, author and trainer who specialises in the whole spectrum of learning and play advises that the following 5 step process is used:


Step 1

The child will play with the childminder in the childminder's setting, whilst their parent/carer is playing alongside both their child and childminder. After a while, their parent/carer will disengage from the activity but will still be present.

Step 2

The child will play with their childminder alongside their parent/carer. Th parent will then move away slightly to pick something up e.g. a book/magazine.

Step 3

The child will play with their childminder alongside their parent/carer at first. Their parent/carer will then stroll in and out of sight e.g. getting something from a cupboard. 

Step 4

The child will play with their childminder and their parent/carer will pop in and our of the room to collect an object e.g. a sticker for their child. The parent/carer will confidently tell their child that they are going to do this and then go for out for a 1 minute absence

Step 5

Step 5 is the same as step 4 but with the length of time increasing gradually until the parent/carer is out of the room for up to 20 minutes. Eventually the length of time will be built up until the child is attending a full session.


The above 5 step process is the process which I use in my setting. Every childminder is different however so they may use a different settling-in process. I feel the above process is a gentle approach to transition. If a child has been with a childminder or attending a nursery prior to my setting the first 4-5 steps can normally combined on the first session, with potentially only one more session being required prior to starting full time at River Sea Childcare. 


During the settling-in period I will work towards finding out:

  • Your child’s likes and dislikes

  • Their usual routine, especially if they are welcoming a baby

  • Whether they have attended childcare before, are attending any other childcare settings, or are used to being left with other people

  • Their favourite activities, toys or books

  • Whether your child has any additional needs, disabilities or developmental concerns that needs to be taken into account

  • Who, apart from the parents/carers, may be picking your child up from the setting.


Greeting and saying goodbye to your child:


During the settling-in period it is essential that parents/carers say goodbye in a calm and brief manner, and tell their child when they will be back. I will always confidently greet and say goodbye to babies and children too. Your child might like to keep a favourite toy or cuddly with them to begin with as a transitional object. 




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River Sea Childcare

07802 583 501

Christchurch Gardens, Reading RG2 7AH