It’s that pang in your heart as you hold back the sting in your eyes, threatening to turn into traitorous tears, that make those preschool goodbyes so difficult. Whether it’s your first or last baby, whether you’re feeling excited or nostalgic, something about sharing your child with someone else as they start school is a significant milestone that can pull at your heartstrings.
At UDA Creative Arts Preschool we get it! We see it at school every year, but more than that, most of us are mothers who have been there! We want your preschool goodbye to be as smooth and heartwarming as possible for you and your sweet preschooler.
Here are some tips to make this day not only memorable, but meaningful!
Familiarize Your Child to Their New Environment
UDA Creative Arts Preschool invites you to bring your child to our open houses as well as our orientation. This allows your child time to become familiar in their new environment with our teachers and staff while having the security of a caregiver by their side.
Read with Them
Every student receives a new book about our preschool and staff. Take time to read it with your child and discuss some of the fun things they will be doing at preschool, making their experience with us predictable.
Keep it Positive
Some children’s books may introduce ideas of sadness or anxiety that your child may not have considered otherwise. In reading and conversations keep your discussions about preschool positive and exciting!
Build the Excitement
Anticipating this special day can make it fun and special. Make a paper chain or put smiley faces on a calendar to count-down the days. Have older siblings or friends share stories of their first preschool. Pick out a favorite outfit they can wear their first day.
Give Your Child a Concrete Time
“Adults may know how long a separation will last, but a young child has little or no understanding of this, and a few hours is a long time for a child.”1 “I’ll be back soon,” could be interpreted as a few minutes to your child. “I’ll be back before lunch,” gives your child a time frame they are familiar with.
Create a Goodbye Ritual
Dropping your child off through the carpool makes it a little tricky to give big hug goodbyes. You can do the big hugs at home and then have a song or a special wave you do right before it’s time to drop your child off. The NAEYC also recommends a reunion ritual where you have your child tell you all about their preschool day. Creating these rituals will create normalcy and fun your child.
Although getting the first-day-of-school-pictures and the hearty breakfast and the new book bag together all make for a memorable morning, it also adds stress! Your child will sense your anxiety, even if it’s more about being on time than being separated. Have things prepared in advance and leave with plenty of time for a stress-free goodbye. Then eliminate stress for your child by being on-time to pick him up.
Tips for the Extra Anxious Child
Each child is different and we recognize that some children will be rearing to start school and others…not so much. If your child is one who really struggles with separation anxiety, here are a couple tips for you:
- Allow your child a special stuffed animal or small blankie in their bag. We will ask that they keep it in their cubby so it doesn’t get lost, but knowing it is right there waiting for her every time she walks past can help. Or something she can wear, like a watch, can stay with her.
- Stay consistent. Even though some days may be difficult, be consistent in coming. When it becomes a routine, your child will adjust better.
- Trust us! We ask that even with the tears, you just drop him off. We promise it gets better. Even our little 2-year-olds get the hang of preschool goodbyes. We adore your children and want them to be happy. They can feel our love and warm up to us, but those relationships are hard for us to build when you are all they can see.
We are so excited for another school year with your beautiful children and hope you can feel our love for our returning and new students! We can’t wait for the adventures that await us this year and invite you to come visit us at UDA Creative Arts Preschool!
1-Anne Stonehouse, Putting Children First, Magazine from National Childcare Accreditation Council, Issue 32. December 2009. P. 10. http://ncac.acecqa.gov.au/educator-resources/pcf-articles/Positive_goodbyes_Dec09.pdf
Written by: Elsje Denison