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Monday, August 29, 2016

First Day of School ~ Easing the Transition

“But Mommy, I’m ‘ascared’ to go to school.  I won’t know anybody there!”
“Daddy, I don’t know where to go potty at school!”

It’s that time of year, where the worries of your children and your own as a parent are at the forefront of our thoughts. It's a time of excitement for all and anxiety for some, as  you prepare to entrust your little ones to our BELA  Learning Team and we prepare to welcome your most precious little people

As Lisa Medoff reminds us in her article First Day of School, “separation anxiety is a very common problem for preschool children, especially during the first few weeks of school. You may also see some separation anxiety in children after an illness, a vacation, or even a long weekend, where they have become accustomed to being at home for a long period of time.”

Transitions of any type can be difficult with children this age, as their self regulation skills continue to mature. As  Dr. Stuart Shanker says in his book Self-Reg – How to Help your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle & Successfully Engage in Life, “Children… find it very hard to articulate what they’re feeling.  It is through their actions – or lack of action – that they show us.  Once we learn how to read their signals, there are effective steps we can take to help them manage their arousal.

As families and BELA staff work together to decrease the fear, or anxiety, children may be feeling as the beginning of an exciting year of learning is approaching, there are a number of strategies that we may utilize in order to provide support for your child, and to help you feel better prepared for this all important transition into the exciting world of early learning.  You are your child’s first, and most important teachers, and we are happy to collaborate with you to choose strategies that may support  your child.   From our previous experiences, we have selected some strategies you may find helpful in the weeks ahead. 

Transition stories:  We have posted on our website two transition stories, one for children who will be new to BELA and a second one for children who are returning to school after the break.  You are welcome to  add your child’s name to the story,  and the names of your child's classroom staff, once you have attended orientation and know  who your child’s teachers will be The story may be shared on the computer, or  by printing a copy for her/him to read with you and possibly revisit on their own.  These transition stories include pictures of the school  and we, and our families, have found that they go a long way towards helping children and parents feel more comfortable with this transition.

Comfort items: -  a favorite toy, blankie, family picture, or other item you know will increase your child’s comfort level, are welcome to join us at BELA.  Please talk to your child’s classroom staff in advance, so that they know the child has the item and it won’t be misplaced, or if it is in the child’s backpack, can be taken out if needed.  Usually these items ‘visit the classroom” with the child, for a few days of school, and then we begin the process of placing on a shelf ,or in a pocket (where blankie or puppy can watch them have fun). 

Pretty soon, the item will be placed in the child’s locker (just incase they need it) and before you know it, your child may decide that their comfort item can be left at home, to help take care of everything at home until they return.

We have also included an article by Lucy Schaeffer, “Goodbye Without Tears” in our Parent Orientation packages, which provides excellent strategies for ways to support your child during this transition time.

Every child is an individual, and will  make easier transitions to school each day when they feel comfortable in their learning environment.  Please feel welcome to share ideas  or strategies that may have helped in the past and might make this big step easier for your child and for you!
~ JR 
Jody Rutherford
Director of Education & Programming 

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