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Sending Your Kids to School for the First Time

Sending Your Kids to School for the First Time

Elizabeth Baron, is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor and psychotherapist, who has a primary focus on maternal mental health. "I am passionate about the transition into and through motherhood-- from the preconception stage and pregnancy, through early childhood development and parenting", says Elizabeth. 

We sat down with Elizabeth to understand the transition of sending your little one to school for the very first time! Here's what Elizabeth shared with us... ​

"Attending daycare or school for the very first time is a massive transition. Separation is a monumental milestone for both parent and child. Don’t underestimate this shift for your kids, and YOU! 

Here are some tips that can help.

  • There is so much power in preparation. Share with your child what the new routine will look like 1 or 2 weeks before school begins. Take your child to the school and explain what drop-off might look and feel like. Remind them that a parent, grandparent, or caregiver will always come back for pick-up.

  • Emphasize to your child: “You can do hard things. I believe in you.”

  • EMPATHIZE and VALIDATE your children’s fear or sadness about summer ending. “It’s ok to have a lot of feelings about this. Transitions are hard for me too."

  • Do a trial run the week before the first day: go through the routine, practice getting out the door. This means even WALKING or DRIVING to daycare. It’s important for YOU, as the parent, to get comfortable and familiar with the newness.

  • Articulate to teachers and staff how you are feeling if you are anxious or worried. “I am a first time parent, I am a COVID parent, I’ve been the sole caregiver for my child until now. Bear with me as we transition to this new setting." Acknowledging the fear will give it less power.

  • Remember! Even if drop-off or pick-up don’t go “perfectly” or smoothly, this is not a barometer for how your child will feel about their day.

The start of daycare or school will take time to get comfortable with, like any other change or transition. Be patient and kind to yourself and to your child. Connect through the discomfort rather than engaging in the shame spiral about what it means that you both are having a hard time. Of course you're having a hard time! IT'S NEW!

Lastly, in times of change, it’s actually adaptive for children to struggle - they are looking for safety. This can take time to build! KNOW THIS! Validate this so your children can learn they can be safe in new environments. Explain to your children why  we go to school or daycare. No matter how young your child is, begin to share information through explanation. They deserve to know and eventually appreciate more information than less.

Sending your child to school or daycare is one of many firsts you will be experiencing with your children, so try to enjoy this special milestone on your parenting journey. 

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