August 21, 2023

First Days at Preschool: Tips for Separation Anxiety and More

Dancing Moose Montessori School

Annie Bolander, Museum Campus Educational Coach

As a mom of three children and 16 years of teaching experience, I can safely say that change is hard. Transitions are hard. New things can be hard. However, there are things that we can do as parents to help little ones have a successful start to school. This in turn supports a successful academic year.  This will take strength, patience, and trust for both parents and teachers as they develop a relationship that will help your child become successful in their educational journey. 

As you prepare your child to be dropped off at school, keep in mind that children thrive on consistency and a new school year brings so much inevitable change. Routine is so important for your child and when that changes it is helpful to have a plan to help your child, you, and the rest of your family. Some questions you may ask yourself could be: What does that look like when I get to school? How can I create a routine for my child that I can follow each day? What can I do to prepare my child for that transition from home to school?

A great thing to work on with your child is having different options that may help them know what is coming next in their routine before coming to school. Some ideas are: 

  •       Picture chart – each part of the routine has a picture. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can just be stick figures drawn out. This can be for their ‘getting ready in the morning’ routine or even their ‘after-school’ routine. Keep it the same as much as possible. 
  •       A calendar – Clearly labeled with pictures, stickers, or something visual to show if it is a school day or a “Home Day”. 
  •       Specific words that you can say that the child can associate with what is coming next – “Yay, Hooray, it’s another school day.”

When you come to school it is also so important that you be honest with your child; let them know where they are going, where you will be going, and what the “plan” is for when they get to school. This is such an important piece to help your child transition into the classroom and to build trust with their teachers, their friends, and their classroom environment. Please keep in mind that this is harder for you as a parent than it is for a student. Your heart goes out to your child, and you want to see them happy and thriving in their school journey. Good news, so do your child’s teachers and we are here to support you, your child, and your family. Some ideas to help with the transition once you get to school and are ready to say good-bye are: 

  •       Tangible item to touch – Give your child a small, special something (a crystal, a note, etc.) for them to hold safely in their pocket. They can then reach in and touch it to remind them that you love them, and you will be back. Be sure to communicate this with the teacher so they can support your child as they work with that item. 
  •       Good-bye routine – Come up with a good-bye routine that you can do with your child every day you drop them off. This is something you can practice at home, when you drop off to babysitters, etc. An example of a good-bye routine could be – “I am going to give you three hugs, two kisses, and a squeeze on your hands and then you go into your classroom”. Your teacher will be there at the door to help guide your child into the classroom. 

This can be hard as your child asks for “one more hug” or “one more kiss”. Please note, if you stray from the routine that has been decided it makes it even more confusing for your child to know what to expect from you. Once you are finished with your routine, trust the teacher will help your child and feel free to go observe through the cameras at the front of the school. If you have any other concerns, we encourage you to send messages through ClassDojo and your teacher will respond when they are able. 

A child transitioning and becoming familiar with the routine of school/classroom, building relationships with their teachers, and figuring out relationships with friends in the class will take about two weeks. We encourage you to show strength for your child even when it is so very hard for you. Give yourself and your child grace as you practice these transitions and plans that you put into place, and give them time before you change them. As a team we will work very hard to help your child be successful in their first few minutes of being at school and carry that into the success of their journey into the classroom

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Dancing Moose Montessori School

August 21, 2023


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