If you are anything like I was when my children were in preschool and kindergarten, you probably wish you could be a "fly on the wall" in our Bernard Zell classrooms. To help keep you updated and involved, your children's teachers will be sharing weekly posts on BZ Connect to highlight intellectual explorations and social-emotional learning in the classrooms of our Nursery, Junior Kindergarten and Senior Kindergarten students. Please do read these weekly updates. They are great "jumping off points" to help you engage in meaningful conversations with your children about their school experiences. On my end, I will be writing a monthly musing in Ma Nishma to share early childhood best practices and family education topics that I hope you will also find interesting.
A few weeks ago, as I was dropping my children off to college for the final time and thinking about their impending next steps towards true adulthood, it brought me back to how all of you must be feeling as you begin or continue your Bernard Zell journey. While your transition is slightly different than mine, the same emotions apply as you watch your children move into a new stage of development where they are beginning to separate, to form their own identities, and to take initiative and strive for independence. You know your children are ready, but a part of you wants to hold onto those little ones to ensure they are well taken care of and safe, both emotionally and physically. As responsive early childhood professionals, you can be assured that we understand where you are coming from and will do all we can to support your children (and you!) when challenging situations arise.
One such situation that some parents of young children face at the beginning of a new school year is how to handle morning drop off. Children can sometimes be teary and parents, unsure of what to do, waver between guilt and frustration. As a seasoned classroom teacher, I can tell you that, more often than not, your child has stopped crying just a few minutes after you have left their side and spent the rest of their day happy and engaged with friends and teachers.
Transitions are hard and often filled with intense emotions. Here are a few tips to ease this particular transition for you and your child.
- Try to handle your own stress. Children typically do just fine in a new environment and quickly acclimate to new routines and schedules. As parents, it is sometimes hard for us to see our children growing up and we often project our emotions onto them. Children often pick up on our stress and this can make the adjustment harder for them.
- Avoid the temptation of sticking around to check in on your child or sneaking away without saying goodbye. Long drawn out goodbyes just increase a child's anxiety while leaving without saying goodbye plays on young children's greatest fears of being left. Instead, enlist the help of your child's teacher (or me) and create a goodbye routine.
- Try not to make promises you can't keep. Telling your child you will be back in "just a little bit" when it will be multiple hours does not set them up for success. Similarly, telling your child that they can come home if they tell their teacher they still feel sad after an hour or two does not set up your child's teacher for success.
- Finally, allow your children appropriate independence if they are asking for it. When they are ready to try the carpool line, praise their bravery and give me and Hagit a heads' up! We promise to be waiting to receive them and walk them to their classrooms. That doesn't mean you can't ever walk them in again, but allowing your child to become comfortable entering school without you will give you the flexibility to do so when you need to!
Once these things are in place, you and your child can settle in for what we know will be a wonderful year! Please know that our partnership with families is of utmost importance to us and, together, we look forward to learning, exploring and problem-solving alongside you and your children this year!