Education, Redwood COE

Supporting families to Settle-In

By kfg_admin

At Redwood Center of Excellence, we have been eagerly waiting for the start of the new year!

Our brand-new children starting, who are eager, tentative, ready to learn and in awe of it all.  We all started out this way and you remind us to begin small and that every achievement is incredible!  

Our returning children, who seem to have grown up so much during the Summer.  Your shoes are bigger and you are suddenly ready to be the biggest ones in the class. You left capable and have returned even more amazing. You remind us to dream big!

These first few weeks of term are often met with a dual mix of excitement and anxiety for children and parents alike.  Separating from parents whether it’s children’s first day or if they are returning can easily leave even the most upbeat child and parent in tears.

Saying good-bye with confidence & calmness

It’s natural for children to have a challenging time with big transitions such as starting nursery.  Anxiety around separation is a normal part of child development and it is important to have realistic expectations around such important transitions.

Even when the drop-offs appear to be going quite seamlessly at the beginning of term, it helps for parents to know that phases of clinginess and reluctance to say good-bye are both normal and to be expected.  We find that many children seem to be doing well with the transition only to experience some anxiety a few weeks into the term.

In both scenarios we advise parents to apply the same principle at drop off: to say goodbye with confidence and calmness.

As parents, the energy we bring will always set the tone and determine how confidently a child will be able to separate from us.  If parents are tense, unsure, or feel scared that the adjustment process is too traumatising then we are signalling to children that separating is in fact something to be fearful of.

Yet, understandably the process is hard on the emotions of parents.  And so parents need to prepare themselves and practice to be better able to support children in the best possible way as they make the separation.

Accept ownership & keep perspective
Take responsibility for the decision you have made to start your child at nursery.  Although the transition may not be seamless you need to remain confident in your decision-making and we will be there to support you. 

Prepare yourself
Try and visualise before-hand the ‘good-bye’ and practice handling the situation in a calm and connected manner.  It may sound strange but it really does work! 

Prepare your child
We feel it is important to prepare your child too.  Talk them through what will happen step by step, so they know what to expect.  It is also important to discuss with children in an age-appropriate manner not only the exciting parts about nursery but also being honest that sometimes it may be a bit hard to say goodbye and you may miss Mommy and Daddy.

Explaining that it is normal to have mixed emotions about new things is beneficial and supportive for every child.  It is all part of the process and big emotions and sometimes changes to children’s behaviour patterns are ultimately the ways in which children release tension and get back to safety and balance.  As adults we are there to hold space for children and support them through the process.

What about the actual good-bye?

When leaving home in the morning and coming to the Center, create a consistent rhythm and some rituals, such as your child carrying their own water bottle, waving hello to Ms Liz at the door and greeting their teacher.  Always say goodbye to your child and reiterate that you will see them later.  Try to be specific in a way that your child will understand – for example, after lunch, after story time and then wave and leave.

At Redwood we will always be honest in our communication and keep you updated on your child.  You are welcome to use our Parent Lounge and our Center Director, Ms Liz, is always on hand for advice and support especially during these early weeks into term.

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