Dropping off your child at school for the first time is one of the most emotional moments of your life, one of the most challenging things a parent will have to do. You are trusting your child, your most valued possession, with complete strangers. You also have to accept that your little baby is starting to grow up, no matter at what age they are starting school.
As a Director, I have had many parents (both moms and dads) crying in my office after saying goodbye to their little ones. Many times the child is in the classroom already having fun and not even thinking about his parents. The rest of the time, the child is screaming and crying in the classroom and trying to run to the door. That is the most heart wrenching part for a parent…to hear your child screaming for you and you have to walk away.
A large part of the challenge of drop off your child at school is that parents do not know exactly what to do to make this transition as seamless as possible. Here are a few steps you can take to easy the transition.
1. Always Be Positive!
Your child feeds off of your nervous energy. If you are anxious or feeling guilty about leaving your child at school, your child will likely pick up on that energy. The more calm you are, the calmer your child will be. If you continue to ask your child if he/she is ok, or if he is scared, you child will begin to manifest these feelings and concerns. Your LO will pick up on any negative feelings that you carry.
For several days leading up to the first day of school, begin talking to your child about the new school, the teacher’s name, all the new friends he will meet. Remind your child that you will be back later to pick him up from school and can’t wait to hear about all of the fun school activities.
Always stay positive and reassuring!
2. Let your child walk in on their own
If you are carrying your child into school, you will have to take an additional step and try to put down a clingy crying child. Allowing your child to walk into the school on their own, makes it one less step you will have to take to have an easy departure.
You are teaching your child that he is growing up! Encourage your child to walk from the car into the building on their own. Even have your child carry his own lunch box, open the doors on his own, hang up his jacket or put away his lunch box on his own. By doing this you are showing your child that you are confident in his abilities and you do not need to protect him. You are also realizing yourself that your child will be fine and you do not need to do everything for him. Show your child that you are comfortable with this situation and their is no reason for you to have to protect him from this situation.
3. Hug, Kiss, Goodbye
I have seen parents do many different things at drop off. Some parents want to stay all morning so their child will feel more comfortable. The longer parents stay at school and int he classroom, the more difficult it is for the child. The best thing for your child is that you give your child a quick hug and a kiss. Keep your goodbyes short and sweet so your child does not feel as though something is wrong. Once you say goodbye, leave promptly. The longer you stay the harder it is. Allow your child to start forming an immediate bond with his/her teacher.
Some parents want to sneak out without saying a word to their child. It might seem easier to just slip out of the classroom when your child is distracted. Do not sneak out! Make sure to say goodbye to your child. Your child will feel abandoned and afraid when he notices that you have left him there alone without a proper goodbye. Always say goodbye and tell your child that you will be back later. You can even have a fun ritual that the two of your make up. At the end of that ritual your child will know that it is time to for you to leave. Once you say goodbye… leave. No turning back. No matter what.
Having your child in a new school, or even a new classroom, is very stressful for your child. Be patient with your child (and the school) and allow at least a month for 5 days a week programs and even longer for 2 days a week programs until your child gets adjusted to going to school. Every day when you pick your child up make sure to reinforce that fact that you came back, as promised. Remember to stay consistent and continue going to school every morning with a positive attitude. You can do this!