Despite the fact that my youngest son was very familiar with the preschool that he would be attending, separation was a major problem for him. He had been to his older brother’s classroom countless times. He had met the teachers and knew the playground BUT, when it came time to stay by himself, he was devastated. He simply would not let me leave. He grabbed my arm, he wanted reassurance and most of all, he wanted me to stay nearby.
Since that time, I have taught many classes for preschool-age children and have dealt with many youngsters who don’t want mommies and daddies to leave. Their eyes well up and they send a clear message that they will be heartbroken if left. Almost without exception, my experience has been that when mommies and daddies show confidence in their child’s ability to cope and when they don’t hesitate, the child manages fine. Sometimes a few tears are shed but a skillful teacher will quickly have the child happily engaged in an activity.
For some children, I offer my small brass bell. We put it outside the classroom and their parent is instructed to ring it when they arrive just before pick up time. Usually we are enjoying a quiet circle time when the bell is rung and the child’s eyes light up when she realizes that mommy or daddy is waiting outside.
For other children, I have a small stuffed ladybug – it is just the right size for small hands. I encourage children who are feeling separation anxiety to “look after” the ladybug for me. Usually, within a few minutes, the child is happily playing and the ladybug has been left behind.
The Kissing Hand shares the story of Chester Raccoon and his reluctance to leave Mommy and go to school. He claims that he would rather stay at home, play with friends, read and swing. Mother Raccoon is ready with a simple but reassuring message:
“Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do,” she told him gently. “Even if they seem strange and scary at first. But you will love school once you start.”
She shares a secret with her son.
Mrs. Raccoon took Chester’s left hand and spread open his tiny fingers into a fan. Leaning forward, she kissed Chester right in the middle of his palm.
Mrs. Raccoon is a wise mama. My best guess is that she is sad to see her youngster start school. She knows she will miss him and that he is taking a big step toward independence but she puts her own emotions aside and she equips Chester with the knowledge that his mother’s love will always be with him. She also shows confidence that he is ready to take this step away from home.
A great choice for children heading off to preschool or kindergarten. Do not be surprised if your child’s teacher shares this story during the first week of school.