(BPT) - Back-to-school can be an exciting time of year for children who know what to expect. But for children headed off to school for the first time, the unknown can trigger worry and stress. In a July 2019 survey by Kiddie Academy Educational Child Care, approximately 75% of parents interviewed acknowledged that their children experience at least some degree of anxiety when school starts. The good news is that the separation anxiety children feel when starting school or child care is a normal part of development that can be eased through a variety of techniques.
Creating a consistent drop-off ritual helps kids make positive transitions while they learn to develop trust with their teachers and confidence that their parents will always return. Therefore, childcare experts at Kiddie Academy have developed four steps to help parents ward off back-to-school jitters.
1. Talk about any back-to-school worries
Before all big milestones, introducing books with themes about new situations gives parents the opportunity to start discussions around those topics. Read books about going to preschool or kindergarten a few weeks before school begins to help ease the transition and encourage excitement. Once your children have been exposed to the idea of going to school, discuss any questions they have to ease their minds and make the impending experience seem more familiar.
2. Make school preparation special
Buying a special outfit and shoes, finding a backpack with a favorite character on it and picking out a special comfort object from home to bring to school can all help create excited anticipation for the first day of school. Take some time to visit the school before dropping your children off for the first time and let them meet their teachers. Don’t forget to visit the playground to build even more enthusiasm. When you show up on the first day, your children will be more familiar with their surroundings and happy to have special things to bring with them.
3. Have everything ready the night before
Avoid added morning stress by prepping the night before. If you’re packing lunch or snacks, make sure those are ready in advance. Lay out clothes, choose a hairstyle and make sure everything is tucked inside the backpack and ready to go so that your morning can be laid-back and enjoyable. When your children feel your calmness from being prepared, they are more likely to be calm themselves.
4. Say a short goodbye but don’t sneak away
Now that you’re ready, it’s time to nail the drop off! Confidence is key when dropping your child off for the first time. You’ll want to give a quick hug and kiss, provide assurance that they will have a good day and offer a short farewell, without lingering. But don’t sneak away! Sneaking away usually adds more anxiety into the equation. Sometimes, a child will not be OK with the drop-off, and that’s part of the process. Don’t look back, don’t turn around, just walk away confidently, and they’ll eventually adopt your attitude.
Going back to school — or to school for the first time — is a challenge that parents and children face every year. By creating a back-to-school ritual beginning with lots of preparation, you and your child can start the school year off on a great note.