Tips for a Great Start
Aug 14, 2019
Back to school season is an exciting time for some children. It can also lead to worries and fears about leaving a parent. Elementary school counselor Gabrielle Wuebben shares a few ways to help students who may be having a hard time transitioning into the school year or separating from their parent in the mornings.
1. Stick to a Routine: Bedtime routines are super important. So is sticking to a predictable morning routine. Missing morning structure at home or at school can make a student feel lost and more anxious about their day. Fill your child in on the schedule for the day on the ride to school. This gives them the chance to know when they will see you again and what to expect once they are picked up from school or aftercare.
2. Show your excitement for your child’s education: When you talk about school show your child that you are excited about what they will get to learn this school year! Instead of focusing on separation with statements like, “I am really going to miss you today, but we will have fun after school,” say things like “It’s going to be so cool to get to learn a new math concept today!” or “I can’t wait for you to teach me something you learn today!” This will let your child understand that school will be exciting and fun.
3. Have a goodbye routine: Plan on how you will say goodbye to your child (a quick handshake, a hug and a fist bump, a secret word that means “Goodbye, I love you”). Practice this goodbye anytime you are leaving your student for the afternoon at grandma's, when they go on a play date, or just a quick trip to the store. That way, dropping them off at school will become a natural routine.
4. Validate feelings: If your student is sad or worried about going to school, tell them it is okay to have strong emotions. Redirect the conversation to things they can do if they start to feel worried at school such as take 5 deep breaths, think about what they could teach you when they get home, think about something they like doing like riding their bike, counting to 10 in their head, or giving themselves a mental pep-talk.
5. Read about it: Read books with your child that talk about the feelings surrounding leaving for school and/or separation for a short time. Lllama Lllama Misses Mama is a great story that talks about the feelings of separation your child may be feeling when leaving for school.
6. Set the tone for your child: When it is time to say goodbye, use your practiced goodbye ritual and then smile with confident posture. Your child will pick up on your positive energy and bring it into the school building with them!