Make School Less Scary

The 7 most common fears children have -- and how to overcome them.

"I'll miss you, Mommy."

The biggest hurdle for preschoolers and kindergartners is being separated from everything that's familiar -- especially you. Smooth the transition by taking your child to visit the school several times before the year starts. Arrange a tour, attend school events, and use the playground. "Every time your child visits his new school and leaves with a smile on his face and sees you smiling, he's getting the message that he can be happy there," says Naomi Steiner, M.D., a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at Tufts New England Medical Center. If your child still sticks to you like Velcro once school is in session, keep morning routines predictable and goodbyes short, says Patricia DiBartolo, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts. After you say goodbye, the teacher can distract your child by involving him in his favorite activity. Put a note in his lunch box (even a big heart is fun for nonreaders), or give him a "magic" acorn or seashell to keep in his pocket. Tell him that whenever he touches it, he'll know you're thinking of him.

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