Every fall the scene repeats itself, a lone child screaming and inconsolable, every day for the first few weeks of school. Not only is that child deeply distressed, but he disrupts the teacher and increases the anxiety of all of his classmates as they too attempt to adjust to this new situation. For your child’s benefit and everyone else’s with whom he comes into contact with, please read and put into practice the following suggestions which make the transition from home to school much easier. By taking a few simple steps you can take control and relieve your child’s anxiety.
1) Understand that you and other family members may unknowingly feed your child’s anxiety. When family members are anxious about a child’s school situation, it will transfer to your child. Children naturally pick up on bits and pieces of adult conversations, so remain calm (or appear to be so) and choose your words carefully when discussing school within earshot of your child.
2) Try to have your child meet the teacher before school starts, or at a minimum, go to the school and take a tour or walk around. If you do get to meet his teacher, try to find something cool to point out about her. Perhaps she shares a common interest with your child. Discuss your child’s expectations of school and correct misconceptions by talking about what the school day will be like and reassure him that you’ll be there at dismissal.
3) In elementary school most teachers don’t allow toys or stuffed animals in class. Preschoolers can usually take a stuffed animal or blanket for self-comfort. To compensate, pack a surprise in your child’s lunch box or backpack. A note or a picture reminds your child that you love them and that school s just for the day.
4) If a friend or neighbor’s child has been a student of the teacher, ask that child’s parents if they will have their child speak to yours about the fun activities in that grade. Naturally, try to make sure that the other child had a positive experience in that classroom before speaking to your child.
5) When the first day of school arrives, it’s the parent’s job to be a help, not a hindrance to the teacher. Bring your child into the room, introduce yourselves to the teacher and then leave quietly without a fuss. Children will quickly pick up on a parent’s fear and apprehension.