By Liam McCann, LCSW
As our children continue to settle into a new school year, the potential for stressful transitions loom, and sometimes can present themselves before the school day even begins. Below you will find some strategies to support your learners in navigating challenges at morning drop-off.
Be mindful of your own approach to drop-off
These transitions can be worrisome for parents/guardians too, and children will pick up on the ambivalence of the adults around them. Acknowledge your child’s feelings and normalize their worries, and model acceptance and comfort through your words and body language.
Emphasize the teacher/parent partnership
When faced with unease regarding the physical separation of parent/guardian and child at the start of a school day, respond with encouragement that you are in close partnership with their teachers. Teachers will support the safety and comfort of each student during the school day, and in case of emergency school staff will know exactly how to contact you.
Create a goodbye ritual
A special handshake, a high-five, a hug and kiss, a note for their lunchbox…get creative! Whatever your ritual, short, sweet, and consistent is key. Perhaps it is something that could be used for all of your goodbyes, or other challenging times of “detaching.”
Give them a special transitional object
Preview this plan with your student’s classroom teachers to assure it is something that will be welcomed into the building/classroom. Perhaps it is an object they are able to keep on their person throughout the day, or maybe it’s something that can be stored in their locker/cubby. Additionally, maybe it’s a favorite item at home waiting for them that can be made into a fun game (e.g. “I wonder where ______ will be hiding when you get home today!”)
Read about it!
Books can be excellent tools for previewing and normalizing this transition. A few of the many books on the subject include Franklin Goes to School, Llama Llama Misses Mama, Bye-Bye Time, Gotta Go Buffalo, and The Kissing Hand.
Last but not least…anticipate setbacks!
Transitioning back into school can feel especially challenging at times, like after weekends, school vacations, missed school due to illness, or changes experienced outside of school like moving to a new home or welcoming a new sibling.