Every year kids start school — and every year parents wonder what to do. Whether it’s your child’s first day at preschool or the start of fifth grade, there are always new challenges. Kids, as well as parents, often struggle with saying goodbye at the classroom door and hello to the start of a new year.
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.
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