The first day of school can be tough for kids and parents alike. Whether this is your first child going to school or not, each child is different so your experience may be easier or more difficult depending on the child. Or the children might be fine and it’s you having a hard time. You might be surprised to hear this but often we see parents crying more often than the kids on the first day!
Here are some tips to ease anxiety during drop off.
ASK IF YOUR NURSERY IS HOSTING AN ORIENTATION DAY
During orientation you may be allowed to meet the teacher and let your child see their classroom before the big day. Generally, nurseries will do this as long as you adhere to COVID safety protocols.
REQUEST TO MEET THE TEACHER VIRTUALLY
It’s always a good idea to schedule a video call with the class teacher and let your child join in. Your child will feel more at ease meeting the teacher ahead of time, seeing the classroom and observing the affinity you develop with the teacher during the call.
TELL THE TEACHER WHAT YOUR CHILD ENJOYS
If the nursery and teacher know what your child likes ahead of time, they can have some of these items ready to play with when your child arrives. Keep the good-bye short and sweet with a hug, kiss on the cheek and a “see you after lunch/see you soon.” Be as strong as you can because body language can convey sadness and children easily pick up on this. Make sure you smile and stand up straight, then when you go to your car you can have a good cry if needed.
SEND A MOMENTO
Check with the nursery first, as COVID-19 safety protocols might change, but you can send a memento to remind your child of you. For babies, this could be a scarf or t-shirt that smells like you so if they get fussy they can cuddle it. Toddlers and older children might appreciate pictures of family members. You can easily do this on a home printer or spend a few dirhams at a print shop. Another idea is to tie a ribbon or string around your child’s wrist, kiss it and tell them you have filled it with your love. If they are missing you or are feeling anxious, they can touch the bracelet and get an instant dose of extra love.
STAY CLOSE BY ON THE FIRST DAY
Ask your nursery director if there are nearby coffee shops, that way you can be close by if your child needs to go home or see you. Remember, your child’s teacher deals with this all the time and are experts dealing with children’s first days! So try not to worry too much, you will be called by the nursery if you are needed.
SET A TIME FOR GATE CHATS WITH THE TEACHER
No one said you need to rush a goodbye! Teachers are generally happy to chat at the gate in an air conditioned area. Don’t be shy to ask for the time and attention you and your child deserve.
KEEP YOUR PHONE HANDY FOR LOTS OF HAPPY PHOTOS!
Check if your nursery has an online portal where they share pictures and daily updates. Most nurseries will take candid shots of your child enjoying their first day. In addition to pictures, most nurseries should also provide other updates such as potty & food log, sleep times and any other important information you need to know.
During pick up ask the teacher which activities your child seemed to enjoy during the day. This way you can spend time talking to your child about these activities and build positivity for the next day, giving your child something to look forward to.
The nursery staff have many “first days” with kids every single year…ask for their advice! Being open with teachers is also a wonderful way for you to be more at ease about your child’s first day. If you are relaxed, your child will be too because they easily pick up on your emotions.