The first days of school
The first days of school can be some of the happiest days of school, when your child feels confident and secure. We have put together a list of ways to prepare for the first day of school and to also help you recognize some of the feeling that you child may go through. Separation difficulties can happen with any child at any time during their preschool years. Whether this is your child’s first preschool experience and even sometimes to a child who is returning to school.
Please remember that our first goal at Casa dei Bambini is to help your child feel the security, comfort, and love we have created for him/her. Our teachers and staff are trained and will give each child the support they need to grow in confidence and thrive. We wish you and your family a happy and fulfilling experience.
Why my child?
The reasons for these difficult goodbyes at the preschool door are as varied as the personalities of the children who experience them. Separation anxiety is felt for many reasons throughout a person’s life. For young children who are still so dependent on their parents, separation can be startling.
A new environment, new faces, and new adult caregivers can be worrying for even the most independent child. Some children shy away at the idea of being part of a big group where children must share and take turns. Other children find the sound and activity level of a classroom to be overwhelming.
Changes in your child’s life or just returning to school after a vacation or an illness can be a stressful readjustment. Even something as simple as a parent away on a business trip can set off separation woes.
What to do before the first day of school?
1. Review the Route
Both adults and children alike have trouble with change — and starting school is a special change! You can help your child overcome any worries of the unknown by rehearsing for the first day of school.
- Drive by the school during the summer. Take time to review the route from your home. Point out landmarks and familiar houses.
- Talk about where the crossing guards are, and where kids may have to take extra care (at the end of sidewalks, for example).
- As you walk or drive the route together, ask questions such as, “Where would I turn next if I were going to your school?” This will reassure you that your child knows the way. It will also give your child practice giving directions.
- Remind your child where you will be dropping them off and picking them up each day.
2. Visit the Teacher and the Classroom
Don’t hesitate to call the school and ask if you may bring your child in before school starts. This will give you both a chance to meet the teacher and see the classroom. Point out the cubbies, closet space, the nearest bathroom, and the office.
The building will feel different when it is filled with children. Even so, getting to know the classroom — quietly and at his own pace — will help to create a sense of security for your child.
3. Adjust Your Clock
Summer has its own pace and flow, while school demands something slightly different.
It will be easier for your kids to ease into a new school year bedtime, wake-up time, and breakfast time if they start to adjust their schedule before summer comes to a close.
4. Check in with Yourself
How are you feeling: Enthusiastic? Apprehensive? No matter how much we might wish it weren’t so, our children pick up a great deal from what we say, and from what we do.
If you’re excited and positive at his beginning school, your enthusiasm will most likely become part of your child’s experience. By the same token, your worries and feelings of anxiety will be transferred to him, too. If you express concern about this separation from your child take care that your child doesn’t overhear.
5. Celebrate the New Year!
This is a great time to begin new rituals and traditions at home. Try these ideas to start the year off happily!
- The night before school starts, turn dinner into a party by setting the table with special dishes.
- Have a “Beginning of the Year” party.
- Take a picture of your child happy and ready for school.
However you choose to celebrate the new school year, make it an annual event. Memories are one of the most precious things we can give our children. They’ll be quick to remind you about your annual back-to-school celebration the first time you forget!
For the first day of school and onward
What you need is a “drop off routine.” Children thrive on the predictability of rituals and routines. A consistent drop- off routine will help you part for a day at preschool.
Creating the drop-off routine should be a collaborative effort with your child’s teacher. Select a series of steps that you will take every day when you and your child arrive at preschool. The goal is not to delay the inevitable, but to ritualize the goodbye. The predictability may help your child remain calm as the “goodbye” approaches.
Keep it simple
Your routine could be as simple as helping your child hang up his coat, and then a hug, a kiss, and a wave goodbye at the door. A drop-off routine will not always keep your child from crying, especially at first. Some children cry for days before they adjust. Once you have finished the activities in your routine, you may need the teacher’s reassuring arms to help your child as you leave. Our teachers are ready to help.
Helping children with separation is a large part of a preschool teacher’s job. Often the teacher is more effective at calming down your child after you leave. Believe your child’s teacher when she/he says that your little one only cried for ten minutes or so. That is usually the case.
Simple steps for separation
There are other simple steps that can help your child adjust to the separation. Leave a family photo in your child’s cubby. Demonstrate to your child that you trust and like his teacher with a happy greeting in the morning. Provide your child with an opportunity to talk about his feelings, but do not dwell on the issue. Try to relax and have faith that this problem will pass. Before you know it you will be hearing “I don’t want to go home yet!”