Up to this point in her life, your child has pretty much been exclusively in your company. That is to say, except for visits to relatives, she's always been around you and she knows you're there to take care of any problems. That's about to change, and it's only natural that it should be accompanied by anxiety—for both of you.
What Your Child Should Know
Your child should:
- Feel free to express her nervousness, sadness, concern, fear, or even if she is getting a tummy ache whenever she is away from mom or dad
- Know that her feelings are valid and that it is okay to share her feelings with you as well as her teacher
- Develop strategies, with your help, of how to make the best out of spending time away from you
- Plan to come home and tell you all about her time away so her accomplishments can be celebrated together
How You Can Help
If your child has a history of severe separation anxiety, here are some things you might consider trying:
- Take your child to visit her kindergarten classroom well before the first day.
- Schedule a time to meet with your child's teacher and to share your concerns (without your child present).
- Schedule a time for your child to meet her teacher. Ask the teacher if you can take a photo of your child and the teacher doing something simple together.
- Keep the teacher's photo displayed on the refrigerator and casually bring up the teacher's name in conversation. The idea is to make the teacher feel like a familiar person in your child's world.
- Long before school begins, help your child adjust to separating from you by going to a friend's house to play while you run a few errands or by going to a Sunday School class while you are attending adult services. Look for opportunities to give your child brief experiences in time away from you.
- If your child seems ready, consider enrolling her in a mommy's day out program or a part-time preschool class. This will give her even more time and experience being without her mom or dad.
Reflect, Revise, Revisit
If your efforts don't seem to be helping your child adjust more easily to spending time away from you, consider talking with her teacher or school guidance counselor for further support. Seek out additional resources on the topic of separation anxiety so you can learn other methods and tips for helping your child have a successful school experience. For additional information on separation anxiety see: Separation Anxiety Discussion and Resource. Continue to read and apply the tips and ideas shared throughout this book. As you seek to foster your child's readiness, your child will begin to build the skills she needs to leave your side and confidently enter the kindergarten classroom.