Welcome families! It is back to school time again – a time that we hope will be exciting and joyous for the whole family. You are probably looking forward to all of the new experiences your child will have and happy to know that they will meet new friends and learn from amazing teachers. At the same time, so many new things may bring up nervous or anxious feelings when contemplating being apart all day, imagining your child in a new classroom or wondering what they will be expected to learn this year. Having this range of emotions is normal for both parents and children.
So how do we deal with all of this? At Williamsburg Northside, we begin by creating an inclusive atmosphere in which families are invited into the classroom to form relationships between parents, children, and teachers. You are your child’s first teacher, and our best source for information on your child. We want families to feel they can ask any questions they might have as well as provide us with important information that will help us get to know their child better and make their transition a smooth one. A strong home-school connection supports success at every age.
We understand that saying good-bye to a tearful child can be one of the most difficult things a parent faces. For your child who is dealing with all of these new things (new classroom, new teachers, new kids, perhaps a new building), and who has not had that much life experience to cope with big changes, they are looking to you for their cues.
If you are upbeat, confident and cheery with your words and body language, your child is more likely to display these same qualities when entering a new classroom. If you are anxious and nervous, your child will pick up on that and may carry it throughout their day. Of course, we think it is important to validate feelings and tell your child that you will miss them, but this should be provided with reassurance: “I know you are going to miss mommy and I will miss you so much, but I know your teachers will take such good care of you.”
It is important to always say goodbye to your child. Though it may be tempting to sneak out when they are distracted, when they realize you are gone they become confused, upset or disappointed. Saying goodbye sends the message that you are confortable leaving your child in the environment. When you do tell your child that you are going to leave, make sure you keep your word. Showing hesitation if they become upset can confirm for them that there is something to worry about, making the eventual separation even harder.
When you do leave the room, resist the urge to peak back in. While we know seeing for yourself that your child is calm and enjoying themselves is what is desired, if your child sees you it can start the separation process all over again. You will always be called or e-mailed if your child remains upset, and if you are concerned you are always welcome call yourself to get an update.
Finally, remember that separating and going through transition, like so many things in life, is a work in progress. Give it some time and before you know it you’ll be established in your routine and your child will be exploring, growing and learning in ways you never imagined! And if you still have questions, on Friday, September 16th we will hold Part 1 of our Parent Lecture Series in the Gym at 152 North 5th St. The topic is Transition & Separation: Easing the Anxiety with our School Psychologist, Dr. Vanessa Brodie. Hope to see you there!
Bridget Lambrechts, Head of Preschool