Start the School Year Off Right

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iStock - girl with back to school sign (2) Back-to-school time is upon us already! Whether your child is just starting out at school or a seasoned school goer, it’s important to prepare yourselves for the start of a new school year.

We reached out to development expert, Dana Rosenbloom, to provide us with some tips and resources on the separation process, the parent or caregiver’s role, and how best to support your child.

For your ongoing reference and support, you’ll find a link to a taped teleclass, led by Dana, on School Separation HERE.

If your child is just starting school for the first time, you will find these tips very helpful:

Tips For Preparing Your Child For Nursery School

The most important way to help your child feel comfortable with the idea of beginning nursery school is to make sure you are comfortable with the idea of him or her beginning nursery school. If you have questions or concerns call the school and speak with your child’s teacher, the director, or the school’s early childhood consultant. Children are very perceptive, if you are feeling nervous, they will most certainly feel nervous as well.

Start a conversation with your child about beginning school. Mention any familiar faces they may see. Ask them what toys they think they might play with at school. Remind them that grownups always come back! (There are no beds or cribs at school!) If your child’s anxiety level seems to rise during the conversation, end it. You can always bring it up again. Know your child. Some children do better with less preparation, others with more.

On the first day of school have one parent drop your child off. Having to say goodbye to two parents can be far more difficult. Also, try to make arrangements for any siblings so that they are not present for separation. Again, watching a parent leave with a sibling can make separation harder for some young children.

When bringing your child to school the first day make sure they are walking once they get inside the building. They can absolutely hold your hand as you walk in. Walking on their own begins the process of helping your child become more independent.

Remember that beginning school is a process. There is no time table. Your child will have days where he or she will run in to the room without issue and there will be days where saying goodbye is more difficult. Everyone separates! Make sure you are clear about the teachers’ plan for separation and continue to let them know if you have specific concerns. When you reunite at the end of the day remind your child that you came back, just as you said you would!

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How Are We Going To Separate?
This piece was originally posted on Dana’s Blog.

Separation for the first time at school can be a spectacular, and sometimes challenging, experience for grown-ups and children alike. I find that having a plan helps immensely. You can talk to both your child and his or her teacher about “the plan” and then follow through. Try these tips:

1. Have Your Child Walk In To The Building and Classroom – A child who walks independently into a school or day care building is starting off with a sense that they can do this and that you believe this will be a great experience. Isn’t that the message you want to send your child? When we hold children in these situations we may subconsciously squeeze them a little tighter and convey some of our own trepidations about what’s to come. Truth be told, your child may not want to walk in themselves every day, but establishing this as part of your morning routine sends a positive message about your child’s competence and your belief in him or her.

2. Establish A Goodbye Routine – Whether it’s a hug and a high-five or a wave through the window, set up a routine that you do consistently when you leave your child. You can use your goodbye routine at home with caregivers, when leaving your child with your partner, and especially with drop-off situations at school and day care. The predictability of the routine will help your child feel safer and more comfortable with the idea of separation.

3. Think About the Transfer of Responsibility – One of the major goals of separation, in addition to fostering your child’s sense of self, is to convey a transfer of responsibility to the teacher or caregiver. In this way you tell your child, that the caregiver or teacher can help them, soothe them, change their diaper, etc. They may not do it exactly like Mom or Dad, but you feel comfortable with this environment and this person, and you feel good about them being a part of your child’s life. If your child comes over to you during separation, or seems hesitant, give a reassuring kiss or hug and encourage them to ask their teacher for help or to see what their caregiver is working on.

4. Give Your Child A Concrete “Time” When You’ll Be Back – I’m not suggesting you have your young child live by the clock, but ask the teacher what the last activity of the day will be. Generally, the daily schedule at the beginning of the year will remain pretty constant so that children feel secure and can learn the routine. If you know that the last thing your child will do each day is have a Goodbye Circle, you can let them know you’ll be back after it’s over. This gives your child another concrete way to feel safe. Remind them who will be there to pick them up and that that person will be there after

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Even if your child is older and has been going to school for awhile, the start of a new school year (along with excitement) can bring with it some uncertainty and worry. THIS blog by Child Mind Institute, provides some great guidance for parents of children of all ages on how to manage back-to-school anxiety.

A big thank you to Mott’s as our back-to-school sponsor!

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Dana Rosenbloom has a master’s degree in Infant and Parent Development and Early Intervention and has been working with children and families for over 10 years. Dana’s Kids provides parent education, play therapy, special education services, parent workshops and support groups, and professional development. To learn more about Dana and Dana’s Kids please visit www.DanasKids.com.

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.


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