The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is a classic book written to help Kindergarteners and other school- or preschool-aged kids hold onto mom or dad while apart at school. You can find it at the library, Chapters, and most bookstores. My daughter loves it. Try reading it a few days in a row the week before school starts. Use it as a jumping off point to brainstorm other ways you and your child can keep connected while separated.
According to Vancouver psychologist and child expert Dr. Gordon Neufeld, separation anxiety is completely normal in young children and not something we need to try to get rid of. But in our current culture where kids are separated all day from parents early on for day care and, more recently, all day kindergarten, we have to acknowledge that they are carrying a larger separation burden than ever before. The good news is we can help lighten that load by strategizing tools for them to hold on while apart.
Some popular ideas include putting a photo of yourself in your child’s lunch box, putting a new post-it everyday on their sandwich or tupperware container with a note from you like, “See you after school and we can have snack together.” Focus your note on the time you will be reunited. You can draw a funny face or have them draw a picture together with you and put it in their backpack or gym bag together.
Other ideas for staying connected are to physically be a part of their class by volunteering for an hour once every couple of weeks or whenever your schedule permits. Many kindergarten teachers love a parent visiting to read a story or help with a craft. Can you imagine running a class of 20 4-5 year olds all day, everyday without some extra help?
If you are really struggling with separation don’t hesitate to contact me to make a plan to make things easier on the both of you.
Here’s to a happy start to the school year!