Some children take to preschool like a fish to water without as much as a wave goodbye to parents. Most others take a lot longer, some up to a month. This time can be very, very trying for parents. Here are some tips to help you navigate the first month if your child continues to seem to have difficulty and to assess your concern that you’ve chosen the right school.
Persevere. The most important thing to remember is that you need to persevere. Separation is a very important developmental milestone for your child and, to be perfectly honest, for you as a parent as well. While it will tug at your heart strings to drop him off those first couple of weeks, especially if tears are involved, just remember it is in both of your best interests.
Make play dates. If your little one seems to be struggling to fit in or is perhaps a little more shy than his/her classmates, try creating a one-on-one environment outside of school at your home where there are fewer distractions and it is less intimidating. After a play date, when your child sees the classmate in school, there could be a direct association with home which can help with separation anxiety.
Watch which adults/children your child connects with. If there are multiple teachers at drop-off, listen to who your child really seems to talk about at the end of the day and try to do the drop-offs in the morning with that teacher. Also, talk about the children and teachers that your child seems to gravitate to on the way to preschool. If your child doesn’t talk about other children or teachers, don’t hesitate to ask the teacher at pick-up what interests/children your child seems to have to help you with those morning “pep talk” rides to preschool.
If after a month, your child still is having difficulty, reassess. Ask yourself whether the type of school/approach is the right one for your child and /or whether the chemistry with those particular teachers and particular students works. We have seen so many parents just bent on getting their child into “the” school they believe to be right for their child only to have that assumption turned on its head the first few weeks of school. While a school might have a phenomenal reputation, and in fact be a wonderful place for many children, it might not be the right one for your child. A child’s reality is in fact a very small universe: a particular classroom with a particular set of children and a particular teacher(s). The chemistry, for all of your amazing research as a parent before making the decision you did, just may not be right.
After a month, don’t be afraid to try a new school type. Moreover, you might learn through this process that a particular pedagogical approach that you assumed would work brilliantly with your little scholar isn’t right for his personality and learning style at this point in time. You should feel very comfortable making the decision to change schools for that reason. We have seen children who really struggle in a play-based environment absolutely thrive in a Montessori school and vice versa. It is OK for some experimentation to occur in these early years as you (and your child’s teachers) are figuring out how your child best learns.
– Our Friends at SavvySource.com
Starting School: The First Day