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As the mother of a 4 year old, this year marks the beginning of a right of passage that every parent and child must go through – the beginning of school.
I’m not trying to be dramatic but this is something that I have dreaded since he was born. Many children enter child care as early as 6 weeks after birth, but I have been lucky enough to stay home. I am not sure if that fact has made this transition easier or harder. Ironically for my son this experience is exciting, he wants to go to school and make new friends, he wants to meet his teachers. But for me this process has caused a great deal of anxiety. Here are a few tips for how to make the transition easier:
Find a program and a schedule that works for you: This may seem like common sense but it has been my experience that some parents simply place their child in what ever is cheapest and closest to their house. While this might be perfectly fine, it is my opinion that a parent needs to visit the facility, meet the teachers, allow the child to experience the environment and get their questions answered. My husband and I spent a great number of days visiting preschool programs and meeting teachers before we finally chose one. I had a list of what my general requirements that I took with me. I wanted a part day, afternoon program, after looking a great deal we found a program that was relatively close to home that had what I wanted and they even offered a scholarship!
Have someone else take your child on the first day of school: Another common sense one, and it might seem kind of cold. But many times it is much harder on the parent to drop their child off then it is for the child. Until they see their mommy crying. Then the whole situation turns into a teary mess. I say pick someone you trust, (a grandparent, dad, or a trusted friend) and have them take the child to their first day.
Let the child pick their own school supplies: This one might seem a little silly, but allowing your child to pick their own book bag can definitely reduce anxiety and increase excitement. For example, my husband and I took our son to several stores to look for a book bag. When we couldn’t find the exact right one, we ordered one off of eBay. After we ordered it my sons excitement went to a whole new level! Now almost every day he asks me when he gets to start school!!
Last but not least A kisses Jar: This was actually an idea that one of my best friends, who is a teacher, came up with. My son and I made two jars, one for mommy to keep at home and one to tuck into my sons book bag when he goes to school. Before he leaves for school we will blow kisses into the jar and that will let him know that I will always love him and I am thinking about him even when he is away from me.
In conclusion, starting preschool can cause anxiety for both mother and child, but follow these tips and you will be able to make the transition less painful for both!