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Mel Gravely

Overcoming Separation Anxiety On the First Day of School

crayonEntering a new Head Start program filled with unfamiliar people can cause anxiety for children and their parents! Here are some great ways to overcome the separation anxiety that accompanies a child’s first day of Head Start.

What You Can Do Before School
Preparing your child for Head Start before his first day can greatly reduce any separation anxiety your child may feel when you leave. Here are some ways to familiarize your child with his/her new environment:

  • Introduce your child ahead of time to common school activities, such as drawing pictures or storytelling.
  • Visit your child’s classroom before school starts to familiarize his/her with the space.
  • Have your child meet his teacher.

Tips for Tear-Free Goodbyes

Saying goodbye on that first day can be the hardest moment for parents and children. Here are five tips on how to ease the separation anxiety.

  • Bring a friend from home. Ask the teacher whether your child can bring along a stuffed animal to keep in her cubby in case she needs comforting. It shouldn’t be her favorite one, though, because there’s no guarantee it will come home in one piece.
  • When it’s time to go, make sure to say good-bye to your child. Never sneak out. As tempting as it may be, leaving without saying good-bye to your child risks her trust in you. The longer you stay, the harder it is. Let your child know that you’ll be there to pick her up, and say “See you later!” once she’s gotten involved in an activity.
  • Once you say good-bye, leave promptly. A long farewell scene might only serve to reinforce a child’s sense that Head Start is a bad place.
  • Learn the other kids’ names. When you can call your child’s classmates by name (“Look, Matthew, there is a space at the train table with Eli and Katie”), it makes school seem much more familiar and safe.

We hope you will pass this information on to your parents.

May the seeds you plant today be the flowers that bloom tomorrow? Have a great year!

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