A new school year can be a nerve-wracking experience for both you and your child. Whether starting preschool or kindergarten, some children may be worried about the new setting and the new experience. From first day jitters to unfamiliar surroundings, going back to school isn’t always easy.
There are steps that parents and families can take to help their children make a successful transition.
From easing your child’s fears to learning how to say goodbye, the early childhood development experts at Goddard offer the following tips for the back to school season:
- Familiarize your child with the new setting. Visiting the preschool classroom with your child a few times before school starts can ease the entrance into unfamiliar territory. This offers the opportunity to meet the teacher and ask about routines and common activities. While you’re in the classroom, let your child explore and observe the class in his or her own way. The idea is to familiarize your child with the classroom and to let him or her get comfortable.
- Communication. Use this time to ask your child’s new teacher how he or she handles these first potentially tear-filled days. Ask questions like: how will the first week be structured to make the transition smooth?
- Assess your own feelings. Young children can pick up on their parents’ nonverbal cues. If you feel guilty or worried about leaving your child at school, he or she will probably sense that. The more calm and assured you are, the more confident your child will be.
- Establish the partnership. When you enter the classroom on the first day, reintroduce the teacher to your child and work together to establish a drop-off routine that will work for both you and the teacher. If your child clings to you or is reluctant to participate in the class, don’t get upset – this may only upset your child more. Follow the guidelines described by the teacher beforehand, and go at your child’s pace.
- Saying goodbye. A predictable farewell routine can make leaving easier. Also, keep in mind that most children do well once their parents leave. Some parents wave from outside a certain classroom window or make a funny goodbye face, while others read a short book before parting. Transitional objects – a family picture, a special doll, or a favorite blanket – can also help comfort your child. It is important to be consistent and do the following:
-Always say a loving goodbye to your child, but once you do, you should leave promptly. A long farewell scene might only serve to reinforce a child’s hesitation about this new experience.
-Never sneak out. As tempting as it may be, leaving without saying good-bye may make your child feel abandoned.