Creative Child

Six Ways to Ease Your Child’s Transition to School or Daycare

by Rebecca Eanes

Your child’s first experience of being away from you for the day, whether at school for the first time, daycare, or staying with a babysitter, can be difficult – for both of you! There are ways you can ease your child’s first day jitters to make this transition easier. Below are six ideas for easing the transition to school or daycare.

1. Have a Learning Moment.

Read The Kissing Hand and do a craft that your child can take with him or her. My favorite is this craft from No Time for Flash Cards made with Shrinky Dinks and tied with a ribbon for your child to wear around the neck as a loving reminder. For more books to ease first day jitters, check out this post by Scholastic and 14 amazing benefits of kissing, according to science.

2. Give them something to hold onto.

Making or giving your child a personalized, meaningful gift to take to school or daycare can be very comforting and helpful if your child is struggling with first day jitters. One mother recently told me she made her son a wool heart. It has brought him comfort while he’s away, and he even calls it “mommy’s heart.” The gift could be something as simple as a piece of fabric from an old shirt that has your scent, or a small heart-shaped rock you painted red. Here are some rock art ideas from the Artful Parent for inspiration.

3. Create loving rituals around departure and reconnection.

A sweet rhyme, song, or prayer that you say specifically at departure can help assuage those first day jitters. Likewise, make the greeting when you pick them up something special. Give the gift of focused attention and warmth during these two significant times of the day to help your child feel more secure with their new routine.

4. Visit the new school or daycare in advance (a few times if you can).

Let your child meet their new teacher or caretaker. Fear of the unknown is a big contributor to first day jitters and separation anxiety. Find out some of the routines and activities that will be part of your child’s day there and begin incorporating those at home so they’ll be familiar to your child.

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