It is highly recommended that you offer each new family a concrete transition plan to use when their child starts, even knowing you may need to modify it based on the specific needs of the family or child.
When a new child enrolls, have the parent visit with their child for an hour if they have not already done so during a tour. During this visit, discuss drop off strategies and ask if they have any preferences (do they want to hand the child off to you physically, do they want to engage the child in an activity then leave, read a book with the child, etc.).
Sample transition plan:
Day 1: Parents come before snack time, spend one hour at program with child, leave for the day
Day 2: Parents participate in a brief drop off (10 to 15 min max), then say goodbye and leave the child for 1 to 2 hours as their comfort and schedule allows
Day 3: Parents drop off in a manner consistent as the previous day. Child stays for a longer period of time – 2 to 3 hours, can include lunch time if all is going well
Day 4: Follow the drop off routine established and have a child stay through lunch
Day 5: Follow drop off routine established and child stays through nap and/or for full day
Day 6: Child stays for full day
You can and should modify this transition plan on an as needed basis per individual child and family. Some families will need a shorter transition time due to work or other obligations, and this is fine.
A modified plan could include a brief visit with parent and child, then several longer days (visit, stay through lunch, stay through nap) or can duplicate days within the plan. Each family is unique, and you may have needs outside of this transition plan.
Here is a great transitions article, written for teachers but great for parents, too!
Remember that it can take several weeks for a child to fully transitioned to a program, and that consistency of visits is very important during this time. It is OK for a child to take a little more time, or a little less time, to settle into a new environment - remind the parents of this as needed, and yourself, too.