The first few weeks of Montessori preschool are always a time of adjustment and many students and parents feel a sense of separation anxiety which is perfectly normal. There are a number of strategies to help Montessori parents to support their child to settle down. They are listed below.
Make the goodbye prompt and positive
- This sounds easy, but can often be one of the most difficult things to do. Giving your child “one more minute” simply prolongs the inevitable. As a parent, the best thing you can do is give your child a hug and kiss, say, “I love you” and reassure him/her that you will be back soon.
Establish a goodbye routine
- Preschoolers crave routine and Montessori parents who establish a consistent goodbye routine usually have better luck with successful goodbyes. By giving your child something he can count on, he is likely to go to school much more willingly and that special moment between the two of you like a secret handshake with your child or a secret hand gesture with your child is a great way to start the day and provide that sense of reassurance.
Send along a comfort bag with your child
- Send a comfort bag and fill it with a few items like her favourite book, a few photos of your family that will offer comfort and remind her of home.
Trust your child's teacher
- This may be difficult to do when you do not yet know your child’s Montessori teacher that well, but keep in mind that Montessori preschool teachers have chosen this profession because they love children. Ask your child's Montessori teacher to step in to help with goodbyes when you give the sign that you are ready to go.
Acknowledge how your child is feeling
- It is important to accept and respect your child's temporary unhappiness as it is very real and very normal. Say things like "I know you feel sad when Mommy leaves, but you will have a good time, and I will be back very soon.” Learning to cope with sadness is an important learning process for your child.
Never sneak out on a child.
- As tempting as it is, sneaking out the door can make matters worse. The best thing a parent can do is deal directly the situation and before you know it, the tearful goodbyes will be no more. Besides, you want your child to know unequivocally that he/she can trust you.
Ask for help
- Often, a child who experiences separation anxiety with one parent is absolutely fine if the other parent does the drop off. You could also try having another relative, close friend or grandparent give it a try for a few days.
Do not linger
- Montessori parents is to leave quickly after dropping your child and if you are feeling really uneasy, call the school in 15-20 minutes to ask how your child is doing. Whether he/she settled within a few minutes.
Stay calm and be enthusiastic
- Modelling the appropriate behaviour is the key to a smooth transition from home to Montessori classroom, Talk about how much fun Montessori preschool will be. Discuss and reinforce how lucky she is to have such a special school and that you are excited to see her in it.
Always be on time
- Arriving late can often spark separation anxiety. Give yourselves plenty of time in the morning. Children often get anxious when rushed, so do your best to give your child extra time in the morning to get ready and to arrive at school on time with the group.
- Make a point to set up ‘playmates’ for your child.