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Preparing for Separation Emotions

Preparing for Separation Emotions

Every parent wants their child‘s first experience in school to be a great time. But then comes the time to separate; it’s time to hand your child over to a teacher and a school. How do you prepare for this emotional event? What message are you sending your child, and what are the positive steps you can take to ease the transition?

First, start with your choice of school that aligns with your expectations and comfort level, such as a Montessori environment that allows your child many freedoms within boundaries to grow and that prepares him or her well for elementary school.

Next, you and your child might visit the school, meet the teacher and see the classroom. Perhaps you could take a change of clothes or other item requested by the school to put in their new cubby a day or two before school starts.

On the first day, be prepared for some possible tears, but remember that your child reads your body language, including the look on your face, more than your words. Don’t linger, but do call the school within 30 minutes to an hour to ease your mind.

Some children have difficult transitions and getting through this stage of crying may last two weeks. Crying may occur when being dropped off, when being picked up, when getting dressed in the morning or even the night before.

If this happens, stay positive! You have carefully chosen this school so be confident that your child will prosper and grow as most children inevitably will.  

Reassure them with confidence, with your words and showing them with your face. Talk to your school about other possible transition ideas such as shorter days or having someone with whom your child is not so emotionally attached, such as a grandparent, take him or her to school. Most important for you, the parent, is to commit to taking them to school even if the crying continues.

Montessori schools are designed to invite children to get involved with the various attractive learning materials. Before even the Montessori math and language, Spanish, geography, geometry, and music, it is practical life activities that will call your child. These activities draw the children to want to work, to want to conquer their environment as they learn skills used in everyday life. For young children, this includes carefully pouring water, tying shoelaces, using tweezers and droppers, and cleaning a table’s top. As they grow in confidence, they will be able to explore gardening, cooking, sewing, washing dishes or helping younger children.  

All the materials call the child to get involved, which will lessen their period of anxiety, and before long, he or she will become quite involved in their “work,” and subsequent love of knowledge. This is the comfort level at which you, the parent, are looking to see your child.


Cynthia Thomas founded her first Montessori school in Brevard County in 1983. She now operates five schools throughout Florida. She discovered Montessori’s unique approach when her children attended a school in Hawaii. She received her masters in education specializing in Montessori from Charminade University in Hawaii.


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