Tips for Difficult Transitions in Early Childhood

PreK-2nd Grade

By Adina Kayton September 16, 2022

Congratulations! You survived the first week of PreK!!! 

The first weeks are really challenging and emotional for young children who have been spending most of their time with their mother, a close relative or a nanny. Switching gears and going from being the center of attention to class of 10/15 kids is difficult for a child who is still learning how to regulate their emotions. 

These moments are also challenging for parents who are trusting someone new with their child's life. As a teacher I have seen many parents crying more than their child and I totally get it, that is your baby, who could possibly take better care of them than you?? No one. But teachers offer something that is equally as special, a bond and a care that is important to the emotional growth of your child. Your child will experience love and care from a different angle and they will gain a new understanding of family love and school love.

Now, the question is: Are you ready to tackle the next week? Here are some tips: 

1. Be confident! Your kiddo can sense you are stressing out over this, and they will mirror your emotions. Be happy, excited and keep a positive attitude! 

2. Communication is key   Walk them through the drop-off process from beginning to end, this will take away some of the anxiety they are feeling. Draw a picture of their classroom and point to where their cubby is, where snack will be, where the potty is if they are potty training and where his/her favorite toy bins are. 

3. Use a quiet and firm tone to recognize their emotions. "I can see that you are feeling anxious". Walk them through the steps they will go through to eliminate some of the uncertainty. Even if your child is not fully verbal they will understand through your calm tone what you are explaining to them. Keep modeling that positive behavior! This technique is called "name it to tame it"  I use it often and I can tell you it works. 

4. Give them choices that are positive behaviors. "We can whisper jokes while we wait in line to get inside the building or we can play a game of "I spy"! Always provide two choices that would be great if chosen. 

5. Create a good-bye handshake! This will be their signal that it's time to go in and it will be a fun transitional activity for both parent and child. Make it silly           

You got this mom and dad! And so do your kids       Let's have a great school year!!