Moving On Up: Transitioning to the Next Early Childhood Classroom
As young children transition to the next early childhood classroom there can be some anxiety for both the child and the parents. Separation anxiety is a normal reaction. Leaving the familiar faces of teachers and entering into a new environment can be difficult for anyone.
Sometimes the pain of separation seems to hurt us more than our children. Most children quickly adapt to a new classroom, especially if it is in the same school with familiar friends.
Here are some tips to help transitions and separations:
- Know Your Child, and Realize that Each Child's Response Is Different. We all want our children to take to their caregivers with eager enthusiasm, but children's responses to transition and separation depend upon their age, temperament, and experience.
- Be Positive. Our children have incredible intuitive skills. They sense our anxiety and hesitation. As the first day for transition draws near, begin talking to your child about what to expect and about any concerns or fears they might have. Present school as a place where he'll learn new things and make friends.
- Establish a Drop-Off Ritual. Developing a quick, simple way to say "good-bye" and reassuring our children that we will return will help separation go more smoothly. Sneaking out creates a sense of mistrust.
- Tune-In to Your Child's Behavior. During times of change, our children may have behavior regressions, delayed reactions or even outbursts at pick-up time. It's all normal. We can reassure them with positive comments, physical affection, and love.
- Make a Connection between Home and School. Little things from home may make our children feel more comfortable: a blanket, a stuffed animal, or for infants, a scarf with mommy's smell. Photographs also help. Try laminating a favorite picture or compile a little photo album.
- Contact the Program to See How the Day Is Going. If our children are upset when we leave them, we can feel uneasy or guilty. Just knowing they are okay can help us settle down and have a good day.
Adapting to transition and overcoming separation anxiety may take time for some of us, both young and old. Transition times are learning times for our children and us. Remember that becoming comfortable in a new classroom is an ongoing process, not just a single event. Our children learn through consistent experience that each goodbye, as hard as it may be, is followed by our happy return.
- The articles gives ideas for making the most of the morning routine with your child.
- NAEYC tips for teachers: welcoming children and families to your classroom.
- Read Green Mom's struggle to adapt to her "baby" transitioning to the Toddlers classroom on our blog.