Helping Your Child Transition to a New Classroom
Whether this is you and your child’s first ever experience with school, or together you’ve experienced many new classrooms, you might be feeling a little anxious and wondering what to expect. Transitions are trying for grown-ups, too! For those of you who are new to the Older All Days, I wanted to extend a few helpful tips that I’ve learned over the years through my many first days with a new class.
First and foremost, though, I want to assure you that each child will experience transitions differently. Behavior and emotions won’t look the same for each child- they won’t even look the same for your child as they get older! For some, easing into a new classroom may take weeks and their behavior may start to look very different to what it did before. You might even start seeing behaviors that you haven’t seen in a long time. For others, however, transitions may only seem to take a few days before a sense of “normalcy” is established (at least for a while). This is totally normal, but I also want you to know that we are here to help if you have any questions, worries, or concerns.
Here are some helpful tips for starting our year…
Prepare before we go back
Predictability can make any transition or big event a little less frightening and confusing for small children. If your child will be transitioning to a new classroom, start preparing early at home through conversations, books, and play. Knowing what to expect will make all the difference. Here are a few suggestions for activities you can try at home:
- Make a book (*You can also try ours:New Class Book) about going into a new classroom that includes information about:
- Where their school is
- What grown-ups will be in the classroom
- Activities they could try
- Which grown-ups will typically pick them up and when
- Review our classroom schedule
- Visit the school (Meet and greets -Friday, Aug. 27th at 11 am- are a great time to do this) and discuss:
- Where they will be dropped off (and how that will look)
- Where their classroom or playgrounds will be
- Which grown-ups will be in the classroom with them.
- Introduce transitions through play! We all know that play is a helpful way for children to explore concepts and feelings they don’t fully understand. Work through “new classroom” play scenarios at home.
Plan your day together
Before school starts, help your child find something to look forward to and give them a sense of predictability by planning out your days together. This might look like:
- Deciding three things that they plan to play with or do in the classroom
- Choosing snacks or special rest items to pack together
- Discussing which grown-up will pick up and when (even if it’s the same every day)
If you want to know more about what your child typically does or is interested in during the day, reach out and ask! 🙂
Say goodbye with confidence and positivity
That last special moment with your child can impact their whole day in their new classroom. Drop-offs during the first few days (or even weeks) might be challenging and a little scary for both grown-ups and children. Here are a few tips for making these goodbye’s a little easier and a little more comforting:
- Create a “goodbye” routine together: I’m sure you’re starting to see a theme of predictability here! Before school starts, talk to your child and create a special drop-off routine that you can do together every day. Some families have a big hug and hand-off to a teacher, some say a daily affirmation in their goodbye, and some know that their grown-ups will drive and honk by the same fence every day. It’s really all up to you. Setting up a drop-off routine can give children a sense of what to expect at the beginning of every day. This also helps end long, lingering, drop-offs; once you’ve finished your special goodbye, it’s time to start the day!
- Keep composure: This, I admit, is tricky even for me. Even though emotions are high during these big transitions (for children and grown-ups), it’s important to leave children with the reassurance that their grown-ups know they are safe and cared for in their new classroom. When they see that you are confident in their new classroom, they will develop this confidence, too! During drop-offs, keep your tone and exchanges positive (we get it if you need to shed a few tears in the car on the first day of school) 🙂
- Don’t linger: This doesn’t mean that drop-offs must be short and blunt. You might start the morning with some notes from the teacher or a small look around the playground. Then, after your goodbye routine, assure your child that their teachers are there to take care of them and that a grown-up will come back to them at the end of the day. After this, try to depart. It might be hard the first few days to just walk away, but continually returning (after seeing some sadness and anxiousness), lingering and spying, sneaking away, or allowing children to run from the classroom might reinforce their anxiety about the new classroom or even give them the sense that you don’t feel that it is safe to leave them. If you need assistance helping your child drop-off, let one of us know- we’re happy to help!
We want to help our classroom community move through this transition as smoothly as possible- but we expect some challenges. New experiences are exciting, but they can also be a little overwhelming. Once again, don’t be afraid to reach out to us if you need anything. We’re in this together!