The Frog Blog

Thoughts from the Leapfrog Learning Center in Shrewsbury

The transition into a new preschool can be a major trauma (for both children and mothers) especially if this is the first real  experience with separation.  There are lots of things that you can do to make the process easier.

Children are stressed by new situations when they don’t know what to expect.  You can help by talking about the school routine and stressing all the fun projects your child will get to do.  Talk about your own experience in preschool and all the new friends you made.  If your child starts in September, you should call your new preschool in the Summer and ask for names and phone numbers of other new families  in your child’s class  so that you can arrange “play dates”  before school starts (familiar faces will make transition much easier).  Get some bedtime stories that deal with starting a new school (“the Kissing Hand,” “Wow school,” “Oh My Baby Little One,” “What to Expect at Preschool,” and “I Don’t Want to go to School”) and read them together.  Do some role playing activities together that mimic the school routine (put some “soft toy” animals in a circle and pretend to do circle time … take the soft toys to the kitchen table and have snack, etc).  Talk about what you will do (boring stuff) while your child is in preschool and what you will do togethre after you pick him/her up.

The other (often unspoken) factor that makes kids apprehensive about preschool is the fear of abandonment.  When your child sees you leave, he may (secretly) worry that he will never see you again.  When you leave your child home with a babysitter, he knows you are coming back because he is in the house where you live.  Leaving him in a strange environment (school) is different.  If your child is particularly nervous, you may need do separation in gentle stages.  What you are trying to do is establish a pattern … Mom leaves but she comes back … Mom leaves but she comes back.  In the first week of school plan to stay but leave for brief periods so your child gets used to your absence.  Gradually make your absences longer and longer.  As your child starts to get to know the teacher and other children, they should start to feel more comfortable and secure.  At some point, it may be necessary to leave your child crying.  Usually these tears are manipulative and stop as soon as you are out the door.  A good preschool will encourage you to call back periodically during the morning to give you status reports on how your child is doing.

At Leapfrog our top priority is to ensure that kids not start with a trauma.  We run orientation programs just before the new school year.  New children are invited for two or three  separate one hour visits.  There is no separation anxiety because Mom stays.  These visits give children a chance to get to know the teacher before school starts and see some of the fun activities they will do in school.  We strive to work in close partnership with parents to make the transition into Leapfrog as stress free as possible.

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