• PREPARING STUDENTS FOR SEPARATION

    BY

    SALLY FIRESTONE

    ANNIE PURL SCHOOL COUNSELOR

     

              Separating from your child each day may be difficult. Young children often show signs of great distress at their parents’ departure. This, in turn, creates anxiety and distress for their parents and for many parents it becomes impossible to think of anything else during the day at home or work.

     

              If this is your child’s first experience in a formal school setting, there will be a period of adjustment because your child is faced with a new environment and is developing relationships with new people. You may have ambivalent feelings about the choice you have made to leave your child with others during the day, and this may make it difficult to respond to your child’s distress without guilt and distress of your own.  You are also faced with the task of developing a relationship of trust

    and mutual concern with those who are caring for your child in your absence.

     

    HOW CAN PARENTS ASSIST THEIR CHILD FOR SEPARATION?

     

    ·         Examine your own feelings.  Children will sense your feelings about separation and draw clues and conclusions from your behavior. If you are

    anxious, guilty, or fearful about separating yourself, this is the model you are giving them to follow.

     

    ·         Transfer the attachment the child has for the parent to developing a relationship with the teacher. This is the main goal between parent and teacher. Talk about the teacher in positive terms at home using his/her name frequently. Model you like and trust the teacher through statements and actions (example:  “You can take this delicious muffin to your teacher tomorrow for her breakfast. Won’t that be fun”!)?

    ·         Show the child you feel comfortable about leaving him/her at school by exiting quickly. Remember for every minute you stand there and try to comfort the child, the subtle message that is being communicated is that the parent does not trust the situation.

     

    ·         Learn the school procedures for drop off and then establish a routine.

     

    First Day Procedures:

    At Annie Purl Elementary the first day of school the building is open at7:30 a.m. and the students may report directly to their classrooms. Parents may

    escort their child to the classroom on the first day. All staff is available on the first day to assist you with a smooth transition. Your routine as a parent is to say one good-bye and exit quickly to communicate trust and empower

    your child with an “I can do this attitude”!

     

    Daily Procedures:

    Students are to be in their classrooms at 7:45 a.m. During the drop off period starting at 7:30 a.m. students will report to their grade level hallway to be supervised by their teachers. Pre-K will report to the cafeteria. Teachers will encourage and help students learn this procedure.  It is helpful for parents to support the school procedures by letting them know ahead of time what is expected. After learning the school drop off procedure, it is important to establish this routine. A routine builds security. Naturally, if your child does not need an escort into the building, support their independent choice and say bravo!

     

    In Conclusion:

    A routine helps produce the least amount of distress.  More distress is seen in children whose parents leave with no staff acknowledgement or the parent who says good-bye several times.

     

    If problems separating from the parent continue after the first couple of weeks, set a conference with the teacher to develop a parent/teacher plan.

    REMEMBER, with the issue of separation anxiety, the goal is to help the child bond with the teacher. By working with the teacher, you give a gift of empowerment to the child.