9 Tips to Prepare for Your Kindergartner’s Separation Anxiety

by Kerrie McLoughlin

My mom always tells me she was a mess after my first day of kindergarten drop-off: she had to go out to breakfast and cry. While it wasn’t a big deal for me, some kids do experience anxiety over heading to school for their first day of kindergarten, and it’s entirely normal. Letting go of your child’s hand on the first day of their school journey might be difficult for you and for them, but it’s the first step toward letting them fly on their own, and it’s an important milestone. Here are some real-mom tips to make it easier on both of you.

Visit the school. Steph Dalrymple, mom of one, suggests visiting the inside of the school sometime before the first day. Don’t skip the Kindergarten Roundup, many schools have these days, created just for the purpose of getting kids familiar with the school, classroom, teachers and other kids. Also, “Go and play at the school playground a few times over the summer. It helps make it seem fun and familiar! Let them take ownership of ‘their’ school,” offers mom Shari Medini.

Find some friends. You should be able to discover some other kids in the neighborhood for your kid to meet before school starts. Otherwise, talk about what it’s going to be like to make new friends at school and what it means to be a good friend.

Go shopping. Kitty Fulks, mom of seven, says, “Take them shopping for school supplies and for a few new outfits.” Back-to-school shopping is very important to get kids excited for the first day! A new backpack, water bottle, lunch box, shoes, and nap blanket might calm some fears!

Talk about it. Reading some books about kindergarten and school is a great way to get kids excited, offers Cathie Maschler, mom of four. Check out On the First Day of Kindergarten by Tish Rabe, and The 12 Days of Kindergarten by Jenna Lettice, complete with stickers!

Hit the high notes. Fill your kid in about fun school situations, like field trips, recess, assemblies, substitute teachers, making new friends, PE, art, music, and lunchtime. Mom Gina Kennedy suggests even calling the playground a “park” instead since it really is like a park at the school!

Set it up. Laying out clothes the night before, planning a special breakfast, and packing a fabulous lunch will go a long way toward kicking off a great day.

Watch your emotions. Act excited for your kid even if you are anxious, and don’t talk about how much you’re going to miss your kid in front of them.

Don’t linger. “It’s easier if the kids can walk away from you than you leaving them. So don’t go into the classroom and hover. Walk them into the school or classroom, then let them go. Don’t linger! It’s like sneaking out when you have a babysitter,” suggests mom of four Tresa McAlhaney.

Wrap it up. Set up a routine for the end of each school day so your child has that to look forward to. Even a simple snack and a chat about the day will get the positive ball rolling so your child can take on the entire school year with confidence!

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