The start of preschool is a milestone that is anticipated with joy and excitement, but it can also be a time of crying and uncertainty - for preschoolers and parents! Some preschoolers may experience separation anxiety during the first few weeks of school. This does not mean that something is wrong, this usually means that the child needs time to build trust with new faces and routines, as well as with the fact that you (the parent) will always come back! Bethany Christian Preschool wants to help you and your little one transition well into the new school year.
Here are a few things you can do to help you and your child adjust to school...
Try to act confident yourself. Children are so intuitive! If you seem anxious and unsure about leaving your child, your child may pick up on that and start wondering if there really is something to worry about!
Focus on the positive! Do not automatically assume that your child is worried about starting school or that she will have separation anxiety. Do not signal that she should be nervous by asking leading questions, such as, “Are you worried about starting preschool and being away from mommy?” Instead, focus on the exciting aspects of starting school.
Talk about school before it begins. A great way to prepare kids for school is to talk about it with them! Describe or even role play some situations that they can expect will happen at school – such as snack time, recess, story time, etc. We also suggest doing a fun countdown, reading some back-to-school-themed books together or praying for your child’s new teacher and friends at night before bed. These small acts can help your child have a better understanding of what to expect in a school environment and can ease the transition once school begins.
A quick good bye is best! Do not drag out the separation process, especially on the first day. Take your child to the classroom, hug her, tell her that you love her, tell her what time you will back to pick her up, and then leave. Do not stay or return if your child begins to cry. Our staff promises to embrace your child and help ease him/her into the classroom. This is what they have been trained to do and this is what they love to do!
Arrive on time! It seems to be easier on most children if they arrive just before the classroom door is opened. This way they can enter the classroom with their friends. It can be much harder when they arrive after all of the other children have settled into activities.
Have a playdate! Try to find at least one or two other children that will be in your child’s class (or at least attending the same preschool) and get together with their families before school starts. If your child starts to express worry about preschool, remind him that he will see his friends there.
Think about your own emotions. Plan ahead about how you will handle your own feelings about leaving your child so that she does not see you getting upset, and then get upset herself. Think about what you will say when you leave your child and how you will keep from getting emotional in front of her.
Beyond the first day... Separation problems sometimes show up on the second or third day, just when you thought you were getting off easy! It is also common for children to have difficulties when there are major changes in the home. Let us know if there is anything happening at your house that you think might affect your child’s behavior at school.
If your child is having an especially hard time, we will give you a call!
Remember, it will be okay. These things are a normal part of a preschooler’s life. We are looking forward to serving your family and having a great year together at Bethany Christian Preschool.