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Some kids will start the year off easily, breezing into the classroom with a quick goodbye — but after a few days (or even weeks) — cling as you try to leave. Others will enter the building only under protest from day one. Then there are those who rush off to school with great enthusiasm but meltdown the instant you pick them up. Others may get stomachaches, or have difficulty falling asleep. Some may even experience going to school as a rejection, particularly if a younger sibling stays home with a parent or caregiver.

These are challenging but frequent reactions to the start of school. “All kids have a lot to adjust to when they are going to a new school or moving up to a new grade. And their reactions to starting school will vary. One of the big adjustments is separating from their parents and creating a bond with their new teacher,” says Linda Lendman, M.S.W, family coordinator at the Rand School in Montclair, NJ.

“Parents as well need to let go, learn to trust the teachers, and support their children’s independent experience. And they need to recognize that their children may not approach school and learning the way they did,” says Michael Thompson, Ph.D. author of “The Pressured Child.”

To help you ease your kids into the school experience, try these practical strategies for getting off to a good start. Try these strategies to help your child (and you) get in the groove of the first days of school.

Get up early. This means you can have a relaxed breakfast , leave enough time to deal with upsets — and still get to school on time.
Don’t talk about how much you will miss your child. Don’t let your own worries get in the way. Walk your child into school (or put her on the school bus) and then talk to other parents if you need support. Your child has enough to worry about on the first day without soothing your anxieties.

Focus on fun. If you escort your child to school, check out the playground before you go in. Meet the teacher together and take a look around the new classroom for things you know he enjoys, like art supplies, a fish tank, or the reading corner.

If your child gets upset, acknowledge the feeling and ask her for suggestions. You might say, “I know you’re upset. I bet other kids are too. Let’s think about what will help you feel better.” Suggest reading a book together or starting an activity.

Ask the teacher for help. If your child won’t let you go, turn to the teacher. She probably has a lot of experience with this. You might say, “Let’s go say hello to your teacher together. She will take great care of you.”

Make a swift exit. Take your cue from the teacher and from your child, but when it’s time to go, go. A quick exit may be more useful to your child than a drawn-out goodbye. You can often call school later to check on how a young child is doing. And you’ll probably find out that she’s doing fine.
 

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Last modified:  01/14/2015
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