Separating Softly Part two
I said in my last post that there are many transitions in the life of your child. This is so true. I think about my own life and the many ways transition and separation factor into my comfort as a human being. This life stuff is hard!
Thankfully, being mindful in the face of difficult moments, tends to ease the way.
So, with that in mind…
Leading up to the first day of pre-school, seek to discover if there is a way to meet your teachers ahead of time. Some schools will do an open house, or even send teachers to your home so that you and your little one can meet and become familiar with this new, and important friend in your lives.
Take pictures of your teacher, if possible, so that you can refer to this as you prepare for day one. In addition, speak with your child about their teachers. You might ask your little one what she would want her teachers to know about her, or you might speak aloud about your own plans. “We should make sure to tell Jaclyn that you really like bananas!” or “I wonder if Jaclyn knows that you can climb to the top of that structure”.
- Choose a lovey, or comfort item, that can accompany your little one to school. This will be a connection to you that can provide comfort during the day should your little one need it.
- Reach out to other parents in the class and find out what their transition plans are. I think it’s ideal if all parents can agree on a plan, ie: staying in classroom for 30 minutes, and loop the teacher into the plan. The reason I think this is ideal, is because when everyone is on the same page, there won’t be a child without a parent while other children have parents in the classroom, which can be very confusing.
- I always recommend a quick good-bye. When it is time to leave, say “I’m going to go now. I can’t wait to hear all about your day when I pick you up.” Make sure a teacher knows you are leaving and then leave. It can be easy to get caught up in the “1 more minute, mommy?” cycle. I have observed that that one more minute is filled with anxiety and makes the leaving more difficult.
- Make sure you say good-bye. You are teaching your little one what to expect from you and showing them respect by saying good-bye. Slipping out, while it feels easier, can set them up to feel insecure and unsafe, thinking that they must always keep an eye on you, because otherwise you might disappear. It is challenging to face the emotions of good-bye, but an important part of your developing relationship, in my opinion.
- These are general thoughts that I have accumulated through years of work in early childhood, the most important first day tip, I think, is to GO EASY. Be gentle with yourself and your big feelings, make space for your little one and their big feelings, see the teacher as your partner, they are, and breathe.
Some additional things to wonder about:
How do you think about describing your little one’s needs to a caretaker or new friend?
Do you think about basic, fundamental needs, ie: what she eats, when is bedtime, etc? Or do you think about other needs, too. “When we get in the bathtub, he likes to feel the warm water slowly, he takes his time standing for a bit and then he’ll eventually sit down.” These details add depth and richness to a new person’s experience of your child, and give insight into a personality that you know so well.
YOU are the expert on your child. Your new teachers are going to be so lucky to get to know them!