Overcoming Separation Anxiety on the First Day of School

Entering a new environment filled with unfamiliar people can cause anxiety for children -- and their parents! Find out how to overcome the separation anxiety that accompanies a child's first day of school.

What You Can Do Before School

Preparing your child for school before his first day can greatly reduce any separation anxiety your child may feel when you leave. Here are some ways to familiarize your child with his new environment:

  • Introduce your child ahead of time to common school activities, such as drawing pictures or storytelling.
  • Visit your child's classroom a few times before school starts to familiarize her with the space.
  • Have your child meet his teacher.

Don't minimize the importance of easing your fears as well as your child's. If you feel guilty or worried about leaving her at school, your child will probably sense that. The more calm and assured you are, the more confident your child will be.

To prepare yourself for the upcoming tear-filled good-bye:

  • Ask your child's teacher what her procedure is when children are crying for their parents. Make sure a school staff member is ready to help your child with the transfer from your care to the classroom.
  • Find out how the school structures its daily schedule. Many preschools begin with a daily ritual, such as "circle time" (when teachers and children talk about what they did the day before, and that day's activities), to ease the move from home to school.

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