1. Plan your goodbye ritual:
Create and practice a special goodbye ritual with your child: have a special handshake, goodbye song, and/or motto (e.g. “love you to the moon and back” while making a heart with your hands, Daniel Tiger song “Grown-ups come back!”). Practice the goodbye ritual during calm and connected moments.
2. Practice through play and reading:
Have special one-on-one play time with your child (lasting about 10-15 minutes) to practice the special goodbye ritual through pretend play (using puppets and/or stuffed animals) and read together these books that focus on your child’s feelings during separation:
3. Prepare them with as much information as you can:
Visit the classroom, talk about what snacks they will have, what activities they will do, take a picture of the teacher to look at throughout the week. Have a playdate with a classmate before school starts so they have a familiar friend. Do practice runs: walk/drive by the school and talk through the special goodbye ritual together.
4. Include a security item/transitional object:
Introduce or include a security item that stays with your child during the separation to help them self-regulate. Some ideas: a small secret picture, a special keychain, a bracelet and/or a lovey.
5. Plan for a special activity or treat after the first day: Plan to pick your child up from school yourself on the first day (if you are able) and plan a special activity or treat for the end of the day. Despite everyone’s best efforts, your child will still have difficult moments separating, that is normal and they still deserve something special for being so brave.