9 Tips to Prepare for Your Kindergartner’s Separation Anxiety
Experienced moms offer advice
Many children experience anxiety over heading to school for their first day of kindergarten, and it’s entirely normal. Letting go of your child’s hand on the first day of her school journey might be difficult for you both, but it’s the first step toward letting her fly on her own, and it’s an important milestone. Here are tips from experienced moms to make it easier on both of you.
1. Visit the school. Steph Dalrymple, mom of one, suggests visiting the inside of the school sometime before the first day. Don’t skip the kindergarten events many schools host, created just for the purpose of familiarizing kids with the school, classroom, teachers and other students. Also, “Go and play at the school playground a few times over the summer,” says mom Shari Medini. “It helps make it seem fun and familiar! Let them take ownership of ‘their’ school.”
2. Find some friends. You should be able to discover some other kids in the neighborhood for your child to meet before school starts. Otherwise, talk about what it’s going to be like to make new friends at school and what it means to be a good friend.
3. Go shopping. Kitty Fulks, mom of seven, says, “Take them shopping for school supplies and for a few new outfits.” Back-to-school shopping helps get kids excited for the first day. A new backpack, water bottle, lunch box, shoes and nap blanket might calm some fears.
4. Talk about it. Reading a few books about kindergarten and school is a great way to get kids excited about going to kindergarten, says mom of four Cathie Maschler. Read “On the First Day of Kindergarten” by Tish Rabe and “The 12 Days of Kindergarten” by Jenna Lettice, complete with stickers!
5. Hit the high notes. Fill your kid in about fun school situations like field trips, recess, assemblies, substitute teachers, making new friends, P.E., art, music and lunchtime. Mom Gina Kennedy suggests even calling the playground a “park,” since it really is like a park at the school.
6. Set it up. Laying out clothes the night before, planning a special breakfast and packing a fabulous lunch will go a long way toward kicking off a great day.
7. Watch your emotions. Act excited for your child, even if you are anxious, and don’t talk about how much you’re going to miss him in front of him.
8. Don’t linger. “It’s easier if the kids can walk away from you than you leaving them. So don’t go into the classroom and hover,” suggests mom of four Tresa McAlhaney. “Walk them into school then let them go, or to the classroom then they go in and you don’t linger. It’s like sneaking out when you have a babysitter.”
9. Wrap it up. Set up a routine for the end of each school day so your child has that to look forward to. Even a simple snack and a chat about the day will get the positive ball rolling so your child can take on the entire school year with confidence.
Kerrie McLoughlin is the mom of five. Learn more about her at thekerrieshow.com.