Starting kindergarten: separation anxiety

My daughter just started kindergarten and is having a hard time adjusting. She has been at home with me and we are really close. She hasn't even had a babysitter. Do you have any suggestions so there are less tears when I leave her at school?

Question:

Separation anxiety is common for kindergartners, particularly those who have spent little time apart from their parents. Luckily, kindergarten teachers are skilled in the handling of these situations. Discuss your concerns with the teacher so that you can work as a team to alleviate your daughter's fears.

Home is where a child feels most safe and happy, so it is natural for your child to feel apprehensive about being at school without you for a few hours. The important thing to instill in your child is that school is also a safe, happy place. The more time she spends there, the more comfortable she will become with it. Show great interest in daily events at school and let her know how proud you are of her. She needs to know that although you miss her, too, it's important for her to be at school.

One of the exercises that I use with students who have great difficulty separating from parents in the morning is using the clock. I show the student the clock, noting that "the little hand is on the eight and the big hand is on the five." Then I tell the student what the clock will look like when school is over, and we draw it on a piece of paper. The child then has something tangible to remind her of when Mom will be back to pick her up from school.

Another helpful activity is to read books with your child on the subject of school. "The Berenstain Bears Go to School", "Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner", "Bea and Mr. Jones", "Arthur's Teacher Trouble", and "Jamal's Busy Day" are just a few books about school experiences. Your daughter will enjoy the amusing stories about school, and may even find some parallels to her own experiences within the books.

Best wishes for a happy school year.

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