Back to School: Separation Anxiety

August 30, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Laura Daniel-- the owner of the new Primrose School, which specializes in educational child care-- has advice on how to make the back-to-school transition easier.

5 Ways to Ease Back-to-School Jitters

1. Establish a daily routine that fits your family's schedule; consistently begin morning activities at the same time every day. Don't wait until school begins – start at least two weeks before the first day and continue the routine throughout the year. Nigh-time routines are just as important. Try making it a habit to pack book bags, complete homework, and pick out the next day's clothes in the evening to avoid morning mayhem.

2. Prepare for separation—in increments. Before leaving your child at school for the first time, have him or her stay with a grandparent or babysitter for increasingly longer periods of time. This will teach your child to trust that you will always return. Talk to your child about kindergarten and help him or her visualize what the day's activities are likely to be.

3. Read, read, and read some more. It's often the anticipation of the unknown that makes children anxious about kindergarten. Reading about starting school gives children an opportunity to imagine their own experience and express their fears. The following books are fun to read and can help children prepare for the feelings they might experience when school starts:
"When Mommy and Daddy Go to Work" by Joanna Cole (1-5 years-old)
"First Da"y by Joan Rankin (1-5 years-old)
"The Babysitter Sings" by Phillis Gershator (1-5-years-old)
'Don't Go" by Jane Breskin Zalben (1-5-years-old)

4. Involve your child in the shopping of school supplies and other preparatory activities. Children love shopping for school supplies. Give your child the opportunity to pick out a few items he or she likes (within reason, of course) to provide a sense of ownership and responsibility in the decision-making process.

5. Tour the school with your child. Visit the classroom, meet the teacher and tour the playground so the places and faces they will see on the first day feel familiar and safe. Afterwards, talk about what both of you saw and how fun the different activities looked. Refer to the teacher by name to help your child think of her as a person you know and trust. Reinforce the idea of school as a safe place to learn and play.

SOURCE: Laura Daniel, owner of the new Primrose School, specializing in educational child care, and preparing children for success in school and later in life.

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