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Saying Goodbye at Preschool/Daycare: Readiness, Trust, and Time

When your child goes to preschool/daycare for the first time there can be separation anxiety, for you and them, or both! This is normal and healthy. 35 years of teaching and I have seen what works for preschool children when it comes to separation. Here are my 3 most important tips for Saying Goodbye at Preschool.

1) Preschool Parent and Child Readiness

You both must be ready to separate. By this I mean you need to feel confident in your choice of where you child is going. As a parent you also must not show you child you sadness during this process. Children are intuitive creatures and they can sense you are unsure. If they pick this up the process can be even harder. You will spend your lifetime being their “rock” and now is the beginning. Create school readiness by allowing your child to walk in rather than carry them. Treat your child by reassuring them school is a good place. Ask the school their policies as in can you stay with your child to help them settle. Send in a transition object from home for them to hold like a favorite stuffed animal.

2) Trust your Early Childhood Caregivers 

Ask yourself do I trust the caregivers? Choose the right school/daycare where you see children being attended to when they are sad. Ask the director how they handle separation issues? You must go to a  daycare/preschool where you feel a connection and can build trust with the teachers. This piece will transcend to your child as they too need to time know the people who will care for them and feel comfortable. If they allow ask the school if you can observe while they are in session. See how the teachers respond, watch the children, and read the environment. Chances are you will get a good feel right away. Use this to begin to feel a connection. Be realistic and allow yourself time to feel trust for your childs school environment. Communicate often and be sure you can access the director to ask any questions. 

3) Time to get comfortable in a new Preschool

As with any new relationship, for you and your child it will take time to get comfortable in a new daycare/preschool. We have found it can help to take it slow. I have children at two years old who come to us for an hour the first week, and every week they stay a little longer until they feel comfortable. See if you can chat to the teachers briefly each day. We find that within a few weeks most children are able to be at school all day with experiencing separation anxiety. Of course there are children that need more time, and I believe a good preschool should work closely with you to give your child the time that is needed for feel comfortable. Be sure to tell the teachers if you are having any extra stress at home, such as a parent is out of town, moving or anything that might disrupt a child’s life. 

Just know that separation anxiety is normal and healthy. I promise it does not go one forever, and a quality daycare/preschool will know how to give you and your child the reassurance you need to work towards a positive outcome.