As I sit to write this post, I have just walked through the entire school building finding peace and quiet throughout the classrooms. All of the toddlers are fast asleep. Most of the Children’s House students are sleeping while those that are already awake are working quietly and purposefully. The infants are doing a bit of everything: playing, sleeping, eating, or simply taking in the world. They are all happy and engaged. At the other end of the hall, our inaugural elementary class are absorbed in observing cells with microscopes and are eagerly peppering Ms. Lisa and Ms. Jennifer with questions. If I didn’t know it, I would never believe today is the first day of school.
The start of a new school year is often difficult for new and returning students. Often it can be harder from Mom and Dad than for the child, which is why I wanted to share with you how the day has settled into a calm and easy flow. We understand that many of you are anxious about your child’s new routine and environment. Please know that we are here to help you and are happy to answer any questions you may have.
While the first day is almost passed, don’t be surprised if separation anxiety persists. Children who did not cry the first day, may do so the second or third day. Often children make great progress during the first week only to have the weekend arrive and derail their progress. In our experience, the start of the second week back can be just as upsetting for children. However, rest assured that this period will pass. It can take as long as six weeks for children to overcome separation anxiety fully which is completely normal. Trust in the process and the choice you made for your children.
As parents, there are some steps you can take to easy separation anxiety and work towards smooth transitions.
- Be positive about school even if you are worried or anxious
- Drop your child off and be prepared to leave confidently. Give a quick kiss and go. Only once you have left, can the teachers successfully distract and engage with the child. This process is an important bonding time for your child and his or her teachers
- Once your child has entered the classroom, please do not go back. For many children, this just restarts the process of separation. It’s tempting to go back to check, but resist the urge! You can always ask someone in the office or give us a call later and we will run to check on your child for you.
- If your child has a difficult drop off, move on and let it go. Tomorrow is a new day. Don’t worry about talking about drop off or overly preparing your child. This may only increase his or her anxiety
- Keep these general patterns in mind. For infants, once the parent is out of sight, they are generally out of mind (but don’t worry, never out of their hearts!). Toddlers experience the most genuine separation anxiety. Developmentally, they cannot communicate their complex emotions and similarly cannot process timing or cause and effect as successfully as older children. Young preschoolers may experience the same level of separation anxiety as toddlers, but drop off tears for preschoolers are usually more about figuring out how much power they can wield with Mom and Dad. They are easily refocused one Mom and Dad have departed. And, lastly, it is not unheard of for Elementary students to have some tears as well. This is usually fear of the unknown as opposed to genuine separation anxiety. It abates quickly.
- Stick to a routine. Young children thrive on routines. If you can keep drop off and pick up routines standard. Be sure to have a good routine at home that includes family time, a healthy dinner and an early bed time!
As I finish this post, the children are waking up and parents are beginning to trickle in for pick up. The buzz of the first day is rebuilding. By the time you pick up, this moment will have passed, but I hope you can take solace in knowing that your children are quite adaptable and already amazing us.