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News from Head of Early Years Centre, Michelle Stevens

12 September 2014

The second week of term has gone very well and most of our students are now settled and embracing the wonderful learning opportunities at Dąbrowskiego. They are adapting successfully to new routines and it is a pleasure to see so many happy and engaged children who love being at school.

A few of our very young students have found the transition to school slightly harder. For parents of young children, back to school often goes hand in hand with cries of "Mummy, don't go!" Whether your child's heading to school for the very first time, or returning after an extended summer of days at home, there are bound to be a few growing pains. It's natural for your young child to feel anxious when you say goodbye. Although it can be difficult, separation anxiety is a normal stage of development. Entering a new environment filled with unfamiliar people can cause anxiety for children and their parents.

 I have researched a few articles this week about separation anxiety and would like to offer a few tips from experts on how to help you and your child overcome this phase:

  • Bring a friend from home. Ask the teacher whether your child can bring along a stuffed animal to keep in her cubby in case she needs comforting. It shouldn't be her favourite one, though, because there's no guarantee it will come home in one piece.
  • When it is time to go, make sure to say good-bye to your child. Never sneak out. As tempting as it may be, leaving without saying good-bye to your child risks his trust in you.
  • Once you say good-bye, leave promptly. A long farewell scene might only serve to reinforce a child's sense that school is a bad place.
  • Do not linger. The longer you stay, the harder it is. Let your child know that you will be there to pick her up, and say "See you later!" once she's gotten involved in an activity.
  • Create your own ritual. One of the moms in my class, says goodbye to her son the same way every day: She kisses him on the lips and gives him a butterfly kiss (her eyelashes on his cheek), and then they rub noses and hug. When the embrace is over, he knows it's time for her to go to work.
  • Learn the other kids' names. When you can call your child's classmates by name ("Look, Daniel, there is a space at the train table with Oscar and Kaja"), it makes school seem much more familiar and safe.
  • Educate yourself about separation anxiety disorder. If you learn about how your child experiences this disorder, you can more easily sympathise with his or her struggles.
  • Listen to and respect your child’s feelings. For a child who might already feel isolated by his or her disorder, the experience of being listened to can have a powerful healing effect.
  • Talk about the issue. It is healthier for children to talk about their feelings, they do not benefit from “not thinking about it.” Be empathetic, but also remind the child gently, that he or she survived the last separation.

Do not minimise the importance of easing your fears as well as your child's. If you feel guilty or worried about leaving him / her at school, your child will probably sense that. The more calm and assured you are, the more confident your child will be. With understanding and these coping strategies, separation anxiety can be relieved and should fade as your child gets older. Please know that we want to support you through this transition and will do all we can to make this part of their learning journey smoother.

Have a good weekend.


Michelle Stevens

Head of the Early Years Centre