Editor's Note: Kerry Stockman, a local mom and franchise owner of Primrose School of Apex, share some tips for combatting separation anxiety.
Starting school and the separation that comes along with it naturally makes parents and young children alike nervous. But with a little preparation, you can help turn some of the back-to-school anxiety into excitement.
Young children thrive on predictable routine, but shifting from being at home – an environment full of unstructured time with family and friends – to a regular school schedule can be tricky.
Here are four tips tips to ease the transition:
Establish a daily routine. Because children thrive on consistency, start building school year habits – morning and nighttime routines, and consistent mealtimes and bedtimes – before the first day.
Read, read and read some more. Anticipation of the unknown tends to make children anxious about school. Reading books about starting school, like "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn, gives children an opportunity to imagine their experiences and express any fears.
Prepare your child for longer periods of separation. Before leaving your child at school for the first time, have him stay with a grandparent or a babysitter for increasingly longer periods of time. This teaches your child to trust that you will always return.
Tour the school with your child. Visit the school and meet the teacher so the places and faces she will see on the first day feel familiar and safe. Talk about what you saw and how fun school looked. Refer to the teacher by name to help your child think of her as someone you know and trust.