The transition to school can be both exciting and anxiety-ridden for students and parents alike. Joy in meeting classmates may be mixed with fears of how to make new friends. The thrill of new challenges may mingle with concerns about being in a classroom away from home.

Stella Moon, an Early Learning Teacher at BASIS Independent Brooklyn, has been advising parents on separation anxiety for decades during her many years teaching preschool. She had some tips to share with families in the month before school starts.


Ms. Moon’s Tips for Helping Overcome Separation AnxietyMoon_Traci_0008-455x455

  1. Establish and practice bedtime and morning routines starting a week before the first day of school. Stick to them.
  2. Talk about what is coming. Get school supplies. Teach your student to open containers, dress themselves, and feed themselves. Practice using backpacks and lunch/snack containers.
  3. Add books about beginning school to your routine and be sure to be on time for drop-off and dismissal.
  4. Review the names of your teachers and show your student their photographs if possible. BASIS Independent Brooklyn will announce our class elements and Early Learning Teachers on August 26th for you to share with your students. If you can visit the school during B.O.S.S. orientation, that can provide a small introduction to the building and classrooms as well. Always tell teachers in advance if you have any special concerns.
  1. Have a positive attitude and smile! Explain that school is a safe place to learn and make friends. This will give your student confidence. Make your goodbye ritual clear and quick.
  2. Lower School Step and Repeat 1If your student has anxiety, give the student a family photo or a transitional object (for ex. Mommy’s Chapstick, keys, or a picture) for comfort and support. Email the teacher before the start of school if you need support and are worried.

Parents can make separation anxiety worse by prolonging the goodbye, so keep it short. Do not ask permission, tell the child you are leaving and when you will return. Reassure your student that the teacher will care for them and they are fine. Say a quick goodbye and do not let your student see you are nervous. That will make them nervous. 

Most kids are just fine after a few minutes, and grownups often underestimate how children can thrive on their own once engaged and occupied. Kids often forget all about their caregivers within minutes. Teachers are pros at distraction, engagement, and giving necessary love! There is usually a lot of drama performed for their grownups that disappears once students are in the classroom and with other children and activities.

Most of all, be confident that we got this! 



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