Back-to-School Time: Tips to Help Children Adjust
Back to school time often means changes for children and families: the first day of kindergarten or first grade; new preschools or child care settings; new classrooms and new teachers. Making smooth transitions between home, programs and schools can help children feel good about themselves and teach them to trust other adults and children. Helping children adapt to new situations can ease parents' minds and give them a chance to become involved in their children's education.
Transitions are exciting opportunities for children to learn and grow. Parents and early childhood professionals share a role in making children feel safe and secure as they move to new educational settings. Of course, such milestones in children's lives can cause anxiety, too. Strengthening the ties between programs and families will help create smooth transitions for adults and children both.
How parents can help:
- Be enthusiastic about the upcoming change. If you are excited and confident, your child will be, too.
- Prepare yourself. Take note of how your child reacts to separation. If possible, visit the new setting with your child. Introduce your child to the new teacher or early childhood professional in advance.
- Arrange a playdate with another child from the program, preferably one-on-one, so that your child will see a familiar face when she walks in.
- Start daily routines that will add to continuity. Let your child become involved with packing lunch or laying out clothes. Also, begin an earlier bedtime several weeks before.
- Put aside extra time, particularly on the first day, for chatting and commuting together. But remember not to prolong the good-bye. If the child whines or clings, staying will only make it harder.
- Always say good-bye to your child. Be firm, but friendly about separating. Never ridicule a child for crying. Instead, make supportive statements like, "it's hard to say good-bye."
- At the end of the work day, put aside your concerns and focus on being a parent.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. © 2008 NAEYC
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