Separation Anxiety
Separation Anxiety

Goodbye at the school gates!

If you think it will be tough waving cheerio to your baby, just think how he/she will feel? A first separation will never be easy. We have some suggestions to help make the first day at school anxiety free.

Get everything ready beforehand, the last thing you need is to be chasing around the house looking for a favourite T-shirt, “Where are his shoes?” “Did I put his jumper in the school bag?”
You know the panic you feel is contagious. You have stressed out your child before you leave the house. Prepare the night before.

Today, most schools have a website, you and the new student can look at the pictures, check what the other children wear, what they carry, the size of a lunchbox, the confidence-building your budding browser needs, “Look, mum, he’s got the same bag as me!”

Ask a teacher the activity to expect on that first day. Drawing? Great, try some drawing at home the day before.

Visit the school a few times, explain where you are going and why. Then enter the school grounds, walk to the classroom and have a good look around. Teachers welcome this, as it makes their job easier.

“Look there is your teacher, let’s say hello.” The new pupil now recognises ‘the teacher’. He or she will now know who they will spend their time with when they are away from you. 

It’s amazing how children feel that sense of guilt you will have when you leave them, big smiles and a cheerful mum makes this so much easier.

In the run down to the big day, you will have questions of your own. “What happens if my child is crying?” Trust the teachers to handle this, they have huge experience to put the smile back on their faces. There are procedures used to make the transfer from your care to the school.

Find out the daily rituals, how do they start each day? Does each child get the chance to speak about their home, pets, or parents? Often part of the day is for circle time, giving each child the chance to express themselves.

As the dreaded moment arrives - saying goodbye at the gate, probably harder for you than the child! To make it easier all round, make it quick! Turn and walk away, long farewells can give the feeling that it must be a bad place.

Make it appear that you are confident to leave them in the trusted care of somebody else. easier said than done, but important to convey a feeling of assured confidence. A smile even your favourite funny face does the trick.

Then you’re gone.

The longer you take, the harder it is, a last, a ritual of a kiss, a pat on the bum and, “See you later,” is enough. Whatever you do, don’t creep off!

A popular scheme works with most children is to put a big red tick on the calendar for each day that passes without a tantrum. A week of ticks is worth a treat. It works, make a show of the award and plenty of praise. A wonderful ‘special’ prize is a wrist-watch, they soon learn to tell the time when they want to know when mum’s coming to pick them up.

Another idea is to get to know the new friend’s name, marvellous if you can invite them around after school or at the weekend. This enforces the feeling that school is a fun place and more importantly - safe.

Often a child misses his favourite toy, usually, schools don’t allow the pupils to bring toys to school, so, you can put a message from the plaything in the lunchbox. “Your train is waiting for you to drive him later,” “Teddy wants to eat with you at teatime.”
Many children love their blanket, but they can’t take it to school, just cut a square piece to be kept in a pocket as a pick-me-up if needed.

The first day at school ends, this day of all school days, do not be late! It has been a long and exciting experience, he or she does not want to feel forgotten, be exactly where you should be a little before going home time!

Adjusting to school can be quick, or take some time. You will notice a gradual increase in your child’s confidence. 

Tears at home time? Take it he or she loves and missed you, not that they hate school.

A day that neither of you will forget!