First Day of School
Wait a few weeks before coming to visit. Depending on the child, once s/he has become familiar with the new process and its program, it is then acceptable for the adult to schedule a visit or remain a little bit longer in the environment. Generally speaking, after two to four weeks the child has internalized the routine and understands the environment to the extent that s/he no longer perceives the parent as a part of it. This makes visits and separation a little easier. Please note: for whatever reason, the third day in a new facility tends to be the most difficult day for separation. If you can successfully complete separation with the child as described earlier, it is likely that subsequent days will become easier and easier.
Though it is not at a conscious level, the child thrives on the attention that is given and the ability to keep the adult engaged for as long as possible. Once the pattern develops, it is very difficult to break.
Sometimes, as the child has adjusted to a new school environment, the parent will actually facilitate separation issues. Calling the child back for a last hug after s/he has begun to get involved in an activity brings the child‘s attention back to the parent’s departure. The child’s involvement is your golden opportunity to slip away without event. By all means, avoid returning to the child once you have walked out the door.
Sometimes children regress in their behaviors even after months or years in the same school. This does not always indicate that there is a problem within the program. It is more likely that something has changed in their day-to day routine to encourage the child’s hesitance or tears. For example, moving to a new home, the addition or absence of family members in the home environment, or a change of routine can result in separation behaviors on the part of the child.
Remember that what may seem to be an insignificant change from the adult’s perspective could seem monumental in the eyes of the child. Something as simple as eating breakfast before dressing, the absence of a familiar morning greeting or arriving to school a few minutes earlier or later than normal can trigger this change in behavior.
Dr. Maria Montessori understood the importance of routine and consistency in a child’s life. It is said that you have struck the perfect balance of home and school when the child does not want to go to school in the morning and is not quite ready to go home at the end of the day.
Carla McQuillan, Executive Director
Children’s Choice Montessori
Patterns of Behavior: First Day of School. Copyright© 2008 by Hope in the Children, Inc. All rights reserved.