The Trials and Tribulations of Transitions Supporting Our Preschoolers Post Chagim

Jennifer Wasserman is Hillel Torah's new Director of Early Childhood.

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The beginning of the school year is always an exciting time – new school supplies, new classrooms, new friends, new teachers. But, with that excitement often comes some anxiety as children are adjusting to all of the “new” in their lives. Then, just as we begin to breathe a sigh of relief that we’ve all survived the start of school and our children are now familiar with their new teachers and routines, the chagim are upon us and it feels as though we are right back where we started! Our children may be more comfortable than when they first began school because there are no longer the unknowns. However, the back and forth between school and home can be very challenging. For many families this transition comes as a surprise because when you left for the chagim your child was happily running into his or her teacher’s arms at the start of the school day and is now refusing to let go, exclaiming, “I don’t want to go to school!” Rest assured this is completely normal and many of our little ones have a difficult time transitioning back to school, especially with the inconsistent schedule we have in the fall.

Consider the following strategies to help with the transition:

● Have a consistent routine every single morning. Knowing what to expect is so important for our children. Try to follow the same schedule, including waking up at the same time each day.

● Get organized the night before. Having a hectic morning at home can lead to more stress before your child begins the school day. If possible, make lunches and pick out clothes the night before.

● Prepare your child for the day. Talk about what will be happening at school that day. Discuss special activities, what you packed for lunch, who is picking up at dismissal time.

● When arriving at school, if your child has difficulty separating, try a goodbye ritual for right before you leave. It could be two hugs and a kiss, a special handshake, or even your child giving you a gentle push out the door. The longer you stay, the more difficult it becomes for your child.

● Always support and validate your child’s feelings, but remember, they are very in tune with how you are feeling and they will pick up on your anxiety. Children will also quickly realize that their behavior gets a reaction. Remember to be patient and consistent but you must remain confident and positive about school in front of your child. Wishing you a calm and easy transition back to school as thechagim come to a close and you re-adjust back to your regular routines.

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