Tips for a Smooth Transition for the First Days of School

“To raise a child who is comfortable enough to leave you, means you’ve done your job. They are not ours to keep, but to teach how to soar on their own.”- author unknown

 First Days of School

The day is finally here.  It is time to start school.   Many Preschool aged children cannot wait to come to school.  They are excited.  This will not be the same experience for all of the students though, especially for some of the younger students who have never been to school before. You may be feeling many different emotions about dropping your child off on their first day.  It is perfectly normal to feel excited for your child but also to feel anxious.  We understand this may not be easy for you to do.  For some of you this may be the first time you will be separated from your child for a longer period than usual.

Separation anxiety is normal.  Be prepared though, it may be a while before your child happily hugs you goodbye and skips into the playground.  Screaming and crying are normal but as they become familiar with their teachers, new friends, classroom and routine it will not be long before they feel completely at home.

The general rule of thumb when saying goodbye, is to give a loving hug (while maintaining a positive attitude) and assure your child you will be back.  Even though they may not know how to tell time showing them the time on your watch or phone and telling them that is the time you will return can be helpful.  Do not simply disappear on them.  You might also incorporate a goodbye routine to make it easier or fun. (e.g. song, handshake, dance, etc).  Lots of hugging and holding is an effective way to relieve distress. 

Most children tend to stop crying within 5 minutes after seeing their parents leave.

The strategy of quickly leaving your child and not lingering tends to work for most children and is widely used by most schools.  Please note that if your child needs that extra hug or assurance, we are there to help.  For some children being left at an unfamiliar place with people they do not know by someone they trust can be very difficult.  This is also normal.  So, plan on being available, if possible, on the first day of school just in case your child is not able to be comforted or settle.  We are here to support and help your child through their first days of school with patience, understanding and loving kindness. 

Establish sustainable routines that work for your family. Routines help to bring peace and calm to children’s lives. Giving your child reasonable responsibilities helps them to feel empowered and part of the process of getting ready for school. Try to start a few weeks before school starts. Some healthy examples include:

  • Regular routines for meals, brushing teeth, getting ready for bed, etc.
  • Allowing your child to organize what they would like to wear to school the night before.
  • Choosing a new water bottle for school and helping to wash and fill their water bottle each day.

Independence and Clothing.  Ensuring your child is dressed in appropriate weather-friendly clothing will allow them to participate in all activities and feel comfortable while at school. As the days become cooler, having layers and proper outdoor garments will keep them warm and happy. Offer your child clothing and shoes, that they will be able to put on and take off themselves.  This will encourage and support their path to independence.  Not only will this help with their independence but may help to minimize any potential toilet accidents for Casa students and toilet ready toddlers.

Label all clothing.  Please label each item of clothing, including undergarments, shoes, boots, hats, mittens, sweaters, scarves, and jackets. If they are wearing it to school, label it! This also includes water bottles, backpacks and of course anything on your Non-Medicated Form. We recommend Mabel’s Labels.

Toddler families:  Label blankets.

Casa families:  Please remember to send a labelled wet bag or reusable grocery bag to be left at school for any accidents. We recommend that two full sets of labelled clothing (pants, shirt, underwear, socks) are sent in for your child. We are also asking parents to include an oversized shirt, to be used as an art smock, and to be stored at school.

Create a Visual Calendar. It can be a weekly or monthly schedule showing they will attend school Monday to Friday, using stickers or drawings for each school day. Note when there are special events, so your child is aware of them. Make sure to celebrate the first day of school with a special symbol or image. Keep your child in the loop with what is on the menu for lunch.

Punctuality and Safety. Role model punctuality for your child, by making every effort to arrive on time for school. Give yourself ample time.  It will help your child and you feel less stressed and calmer for the start of the day. Starting their day and being picked up on time, is an important part of your child’s routine.  Discuss with your child the importance of safety around cars and parking lots.

Explain their new adventure. What does it mean to go to school?  Keep the explanation simple. You know your child best. Lead by example and focus on the positive. They feel safe when they sense your calmness. Listen to what they have to say and answer their questions. Let them know they will be spending their time playing on the playground, having snacks, and lunch, singing, learning new games and stories, meeting new friends, and working at Dearcroft Montessori School. Tell them what classroom they will be in and who their teachers are. Feeling that you are happy for them, will help to make their experience even more positive.

Share with the school. Teachers want to work together with you, and communication is key to helping teachers fully support your child at school. Expressing any concerns you may have, relaying your child’s interests, what they may struggle with etc., can all lead to a more meaningful connection. Please note, we are available and happy to meet with you. You may feel a phone call is sufficient or should you require more, a meeting can be arranged. To ensure school is a positive experience for your child, and to be respectful of your child’s feelings, we encourage all concerns be discussed without your child’s presence. School will quickly become a place, where your child feels comfortable and safe, and feels at home.

At Dearcroft Montessori School, we understand and value that each child is unique and each of their needs are different.  We are here for them and will support them in their new environment.

Please reach out with any questions you may have!