tips to transition your preschooler into a new school
Back to school is coming fast (or for so many of you already has started) and many of us mommas are thinking about our little ones transitioning into new schools, new classrooms (I’ll have a KINDERGARTNER SOON, OMG CRAZY!!), with new teachers and new friends. All sorts of feels and all sorts of anxiety too, if I’m being totally real.
We already went through a transition earlier this summer when my littlest guy went from his former Montessori Pre-K classroom to join his older brother at his “big boy”school. Our older one transitioned last year into our current (big boy) school, and that was a big, big shift because our new school is more of a traditional school and classroom setting with defined schedules versus where we were for so many years, the more “free” Montessori set up. Our eldest seemed to transition just fine – he handles change a little better than his younger brother. Part of that is maturity and the other part is personality. On the other hand, our little guy is much more stubborn, resistant and vocal about change and I knew that going into this transition would be hard no matter what.
We are now about month into his start at his new school and I have to admit, it went so much smoother than I could have ever imagined. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been a walk in the park. Like this week, older brother is sick and at home with momma so drop offs have been challenging to say the least. But even with the hiccups that will continue to happen, I feel two things helped with the overall transition and made it so much easier for all of us.
First, we decided to enroll him into the summer program at his new school to help him acclimate to a new environment, new faces and teachers and to start making some friends. It also helped that he already had visited the school many times during drop offs and pick ups and events for his brother. If you have the opportunity, then I highly recommend short visits to your child’s new school, new classroom and seeing the new teachers. It really helps. Meeting new teachers in advance is not always something that you can do especially when your kids are older. But simply driving to the school, walking inside even into the office/lobby area and talking about the new changes to come really helps.
The second thing that has worked every time we have had to transition our boys into a new room or school is keeping the goodbyes short. This seems like common sense, to not drag it out, to make it quick but I’ve seen so many parents drag out the goodbyes and it makes it that much harder for our little ones. I know it’s hard to let go and just go when they literally have to be peeled off you sometimes, but the quicker the goodbye, the quicker they are okay after you do leave. It’s like pulling off the band-aid, if it’s fast…the hurt doesn’t last.
Ask most any teacher and s/he will tell you this as well. She will also tell you to give a hug/kiss, look at your child and say “I hope you have a great day. Mommy or daddy will be back to get you later.” That “Mommy or daddy always comes back.” Then you need to get up, don’t turn back and walk out of the room. Don’t go back in – no matter how loud the cries. This is hard. Really hard. But it makes it ten times worse if you walk back in or turn around because it makes it that much harder for your little one to trust the change.
This isn’t easy especially when it’s a brand new school or their first time at school. But I promise that in the end when the good byes aren’t prolonged, when they know what they are walking into, when the routine is consistent – the transition is so much more seamless, which means happier kids and happier parents.
Good luck to all of you as you transition from summer into a new school year!!