Objects from Home
Whether starting school for the first time, moving to preschool from a toddler program, or returning to the same classroom, a child may experience separation anxiety. She may also experience separation anxiety later in the year, even after easily separating for a period of time. Sometimes the reasons may seem apparent, such as a parent traveling, a long vacation, or transitions such as toilet training, or the birth of a sibling. Other times the reasons are not clear to teachers and families. Please share your observations and concerns with the teacher and plan together how best to support your child and family.
Dr. Joshua Sparrow, co-author with T. Berry Brazelton of Touchpoints, emphasizes that parents must prepare themselves in order to prepare their child for separation. He suggest that parents reflect on any ambivalence they have about leaving their child, because if a parent feels any hesitation, discomfort or doubt, a child will pick up on those feelings: ‘Well, maybe this isn't really a good place or idea.’
Young children are still developing communication skills. Their efforts at expressing their distress at separation can be confusing and painful to watch. These struggles are healthy and natural, no matter how difficult they may feel at the time. While you may not be able to eliminate separation anxiety, the following strategies can help the transition go more smoothly:
- Recognize and relect your child’s feelings. For example, “You look a little sad this morning.”
- Maintain a special morning ritual, such as eating together or feeding the cat.
- Suggest your child bring in a soft object of comfort from home – a familiar blanket, hat, or stuffed animal. Or your child may prefer to have a photograph of you. Please do not bring a toy or commercial product.
- Let your child see that you and the teacher are building a relationship. Greet your child’s teacher warmly. Stay and talk for a minute, trying to include your child in the conversation (“Guess what Jesse and I fixed for breakfast this morning – pancake rollups!”)
- Take time to say goodbye. It may be tempting to slip away when your child isn’t looking. Clear goodbyes build trust. It is helpful to develop a goodbye ritual – for example, always waving goodbye from the same spot on the playground. Letting your child talk you into extending the goodbye – “Just one more push on the swing! Please! Please!" – will only make the separation harder in the long run.
- Keep teachers informed of any big changes at home. Any change is a transition, and transitions can cause anxiety.
Most importantly, please talk to the teachers if your child is having a separation problem (preferably while the child is out of earshot). They will be able to help by giving your child extra attention if they know that she is having difficulty adjusting and will work with you to develop a plan to ease the separation. Please be reassured that separation anxiety is healthy and normal. Together we will support your child as she goes through this important stage of development.
It is very common for a young child to have a special object, such as a blanket, pacifier or stuffed animal. We welcome these special objects as they not only provide comfort and valuable self-soothing but also can help to build a child’s self esteem.
Very young children will keep these objects close by. It is developmentally appropriate for them to do so, and they are not expected to share them with other children. Teachers will work with children to help them learn respect for each others’ possessions.
As children grow older and learn to interact in the classroom independently, there will be less need for these comfort items. For example, we ask preschoolers to keep them in their cubbies as much as is possible. However, it remains helpful for children to have such special objects available at rest time or other times when they need to self-soothe.
Natural materials, photographs, and non-commercial books are welcome; we ask families to refrain from bringing books and toys related to commercial products. If you have any questions, please talk with your child’s teacher.
Table of Contents
Your Child's Day
Family Communication and Engagement
General Policies and Plans
Emergency Response Plan