Dropping a child off at daycare or school can be a difficult thing to do. As a teacher, I have witnessed so many different drop-off scenarios; some successful and others just plain terrible. Here are 8 ways to make dropping your little one off a great success.
- Find out how drop-off works at the daycare/school ahead of time. At a Montessori school, parents are not invited into the classrooms because the classroom belongs to the children. Asking parents to say goodbye at the door establishes the space as belonging to the child. In this case, parents will say goodbye at the classroom door or the school might have a car-line for drop-off.
- Discuss the way drop-off will work with your child ahead of time. Tell her exactly how it works and how exciting it is that she gets to attend her very own school.
- If your school does not have a car-line, have your child walk into the school on her own two feet. Walking in rather than being carried in empowers the child to feel independent in her school. Of course, you might need to carry a worried child into school for the first week or so.
- Create a good-bye routine with your child. Ask her what she would like to do when she says good bye to you. Is it three hugs and one kiss? A high-five and two fist-pumps? Whatever it is, make sure it is short and easy to remember and make sure your child knows that after is it over, you will be leaving and she will be staying at her amazing new school.
- Do not linger. This is by far the hardest part. Let your child know ahead of time that after your special good-bye routine she will walk into the classroom and you will leave. If your child balks, it is best to pick her up and place her in the classroom or into the arms of a teacher, say “I love you” and leave. The longer you stay, the more your child will cry because she thinks she is actually going to get you to stay by crying. In my experience, most children have stopped crying and have started having fun in under five minutes of a tough arrival. The teachers are used to this and have lots of ideas for soothing your child.
- If the first few drop-offs are tough, email the teacher and ask her if she can join the routine in a more formal way. Sometimes teachers are not sure when the parent is ready for help and the teacher does not want to just pick-up a crying child and take her away from her parent before the parent is ready. Tell the teacher that you have a routine and that you would like to put your child into the teacher’s arms right after the routine. Your child will begin to expect this and will feel comforted by the consistency of the routine. Within two weeks of a parent being super consistent at drop-off, children are usually walking in the door on their own.
- If the school provides a time-frame for drop-off and you are having tough drop-offs, do your best to arrive during that time-frame so that a teacher is ready and waiting to help your child transition. Once the drop-off time has passed, teachers are often involved with the children that have already arrived and begun the work of the day and will have less flexibility in holding and comforting a sad child.
- Stay positive about the school and show your child how happy you feel about the teachers and the environment. Children are so perceptive and can tell when we are feeling anxious and if their parents are not sure about this new place then why would they be.
Have any other good ideas for drop-off? Please share them so that we can all benefit!