Saying Goodbye (For Now): How Parents Can Prepare For Separation from a Child

“Mommy, please don’t go!” As you kneel down to give her one last hug, your heart starts to break. For a young child, whether or not it is her first time separating from a parent or parents, going to school brings about many emotions. A new environment, new teachers, new classmates, new cubbies, the list can go on. The common thread: a new routine.

Change in routine can be difficult for any child, not just at the beginning of the school year and not solely for first-time schoolgoers. Many circumstances can bring about separation difficulties: transitioning back from a long break, returning from summer vacation, and a new baby at home are all potential triggers.

The important thing to remember is that this reaction is typical of many children,and there are many ways to support a child in becoming comfortable with separation. While you can’t predict whether your child is going to have difficulty separating from you at some point this year, you can be prepared for what to do should the situation arise.

  • Get to know your child’s schedule so that you can prepare him for the day ahead. Without knowing what the day brings, a young child’s imagination can lead to a fear of the unknown. To ease some of those fears, remind your child of some of the specifics of his schedule. Knowing that after snack time today he will have Spanish class will help him visualize the structure of his day and reduce his stress.
  • Provide a consistent drop-off routine. While it can be painful to walk away from her crying for you, staying with her for “just a little bit longer” at drop-off can send the message that you’re not confident she can do this without you. If your child’s classroom allows you to drop her off in the room, make good-byes short and sweet. Let her know you love her and you’ll see her at the end of the day. Then leave.
  • Stay positive. Children are extremely sensitive to their caregivers’ moods. Your attitude about school and all other situations strongly influences your child. If you are positive and excited about your child’s school, teachers, and peers, he will be too.
  • Talk to your child’s teacher. Try to get a sense of how your child transitions into the classroom once you leave. In many cases, it takes just a short amount of time for him to see all the fun that is being had around him, and he’ll realize he wants to join in too.
  • Schedule playdates with schoolmates. Ask your child’s teacher for play date recommendations. Forming a bond with a classmate can significantly boost your child’s feelings about school.

How Bennett Day School Helps Parents With Separation
At Bennett Day School, we believe that a child’s early experiences of school will strongly influence their attitudes toward school and themselves as a learner in the future. Therefore, we provide a whole-family approach that will help your family manage this transition.

Parents of PreK students will accompany their children to school during the orientation process. This is a time for families to engage in the classroom environment with their children and explore their home for the upcoming year. To further ease separation difficulties, we will gradually increase the length of time that your child will spend in the classroom away from you, building up to a full morning.

We also recognize that periods of transition can often be difficult for children of all ages to manage, including our Junior and Senior Kindergarteners. If your child has difficulty transitioning from home to school at any point in the school year, we will work with you to develop a consistent drop-off routine that your child will come to expect and feel comfortable with. We may ask for photos from home to develop a personalized story centering around your child and the routine of going to school.

These examples are just a few of the many ways we will work together to provide each child a positive school experience. At BDS our approach in all matters of teaching is that of responding to the needs of the child. Just as this is seen in our approach to learning and academics, so too is it in areas of social and emotional development.