As we wrap up our second month of the academic year, your child should be settling into a routine in their classroom, and drop offs should be getting easier, although some children may still struggle with anxiety over saying goodbye.
If some mornings are difficult for your child, here are some tools to help you build your child’s confidence and independence. It’s important to know that the parent plays a deciding role in how your child views school attendance and their transition into a classroom. We often find that drop-offs and goodbyes can be just as difficult on grownups as they are on the children, but it’s important that we give our child the space and freedom they need for healthy development! If we are not mindful, our own anxiety can stifle our children.
Here are some ways for you to support your child with a positive drop off routine in the Toddler Community and Children’s House Community classrooms.
- ARRIVE ON TIME
Have you ever walked into a meeting a few minutes late? All the eyes in the room turn towards you, and your hopes of slipping in unnoticed disappear. You may feel displaced, awkward, conspicuous.
It is no different for our children. When our friends in the Toddler Community or Children’s House arrive late and walk into a class engaged in circle time or already in their work cycle, they may immediately withdraw, cling to their parent, become emotional, or feel displaced.
We encourage you to arrive during the morning drop off hours between 7am and 8:30am to help your child make a smooth transition into the classroom.
- BE CONSISTENT
Establish a consistent home to school routine, from the moment your child wakes up to when they walk into their classroom at school. Consistency “anchors” your child and allows them to be mentally prepared for what is to come. It always allows you and your child the space you need to pace yourselves through your morning routines instead of rushing. When we rush ourselves and our child, it causes stress hormones to increase. These stress hormones can culminate in big emotions at drop off!
It’s also important to have consistent bedtime routines the previous night so that your child comes to school well-rested.
- ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO WALK INDEPENDENTLY INTO THEIR CLASSROOM
Remember, this is your child’s classroom! They are well acquainted with their classroom routines and the care and keeping of their classroom. Encourage them to walk into the classroom (please do not carry them), place their backpack in their cubby, hang up their coat, and change into their inside shoes – all on their own. Your trust that they are capable and respect for their independence builds their confidence and self-esteem!
As do many Montessori schools, we also ask that you drop off your child at the classroom door. In addition to making it difficult for the child to settle into their environment, engage with friends or engage in an activity, an adult’s presence makes it difficult for other children in the classroom to stay focused. There are a variety of other opportunities for you to visit your child’s classroom, observe your child at work, or volunteer. Please talk to the director if you are interested!
- BE POSITIVE, CALM AND CONFIDENT
Children can pick up when you are anxious or nervous about a drop off, whether it is an energy they pick up on, or implied by your body language, tone or words. Even if your child has difficult drop offs, you know that they are capable, and that is what you want to communicate to them.
If your child asks you to stay “one more minute” or “just a little longer”, you’ll also want to be consistent and confident. It is rare that “one more minute” will be sufficient for either parent or child, so a gentle but firm goodbye is the best response to requests for you to linger!
If your child is struggling with a drop off, you may consider asking a friend, partner or grandparent do the drop offs for a while. Often, a child will be more emotional with one parent while they will be absolutely fine with another parent or adult!
- BE BRIEF
Come up with a short and sweet goodbye routine: a hug, a high-five, a handshake, a kiss, a nose rub and brief parting words. “I love you and I’ll see you soon!”
Please do not sneak away from your child, or simply “disappear”. This upsets your child when they realize you are gone and makes them distrustful of you during future drop-offs. A brief, confident goodbye with tears is better than sneaking away!
Please be aware that lengthy goodbyes not only delay your child’s transition to the classroom, but also can be disruptive to your child’s classroom friends who are observing the goodbye, triggering emotions of their own!
- BE RESPECTFUL
We ask that you and our child are mindful of the volume of your voices while in the school and mindful of your physical presence and energy. Please walk slowly and quietly into the school and use a quiet “inside” voice as you greet your child’s teacher or say your goodbyes. This reinforces to your child the guidelines that we have within our classroom!
Please be respectful of your child’s friends, who are working in the classroom. We ask that you do not speak to other children or interrupt their activity while dropping off or picking up your child. (For security and safety reasons, we do not permit other adults to interact with children who are not their own. All parent volunteers wishing to participate in the classroom to go through an orientation and complete a background check.)
Please be respectful of your child’s teachers, who are providing active supervision, caring for the children, and often presenting lessons. It is important that their full attention be paid to all the children in their care, although they may briefly assist with a difficult drop-off or answer a brief parent question.
As do most Montessori schools, we ask that if you have lengthier or in-depth questions for your child’s teacher, please send them an email or arrange a time to meet with your child’s teacher. We ask that you not ask about your child’s behavior or day in front of your child. Children are aware of what is being said about them!