Separations and reunions are special times for parents and children. The first day of school is always an exciting time but can yet be extremely nerve wrecking. While children attending parent-accompanied classes might not have to go through separation from parents yet, separating from parents or caregivers is a process that all children have to go through at some point in their childhood and is an important step in their social and emotional development.
At BibiNogs, we handle separation carefully and collaborate with you to ensure that your child’s separation from you is a smooth and positive one. Please read this section carefully to better understand how best to help your child’s separation process:
1. Before The First Day Of School
a. Talk to your child about his/her upcoming participation at school. If possible, show photos of the centre or pictures of children being in the classroom and talk about how your child will be joining a school soon and what are the different things that are typically found in a classroom.
b. If possible, take your child for a tour of or visit at the centre. Again, talk to your child about being in school and how fun and exciting this phase will be.
c. Whenever possible, practice separating from your child and build a routine around separation at home. For example, tell your child that you are stepping out, say that you will be back soon, and step out for a while (while your child is taken care of by another caregiver). Do not rush back in to reunite with your child if she cries. Return after a while and reassure your child that “I’m back. I’ll always come back”.
d. Play games, such as peek-a-boo, that helps your child practise separating from and reuniting with you.
e. The night before school starts, ensure that your child is well-rested. Pack your child’s bag, if possible, together with him/her. Ensure that all the essential items are included in your child’s bag. Include your child’s favourite toy or comfort object as this may give him/her security in the new environment.
2. On the First Few Day/s At School
a. Enter the centre in a happy and confident manner. Do not rush into the centre as this may cause more anxiety.
b. When welcomed by the teachers, inform the child that this is his/her teacher and that he/she will have fun being with the teacher. Communicate warmly with the teachers as this shows your child that the teacher is a ‘friend’. Your child use you as a reference and guide, and will only learn to trust the teacher if he/she is seen as a friend.
c. You will be required to accompany your child for the first or first few sessions so that your child has the chance to get to know the environment, routines and teachers while you are in the room. The teachers will collaborate with you and advise you to perform mini-separations from your child (i.e. leave the classroom for short periods of time) when your child seems ready. Longer or extended separations will be carried when your child is ready. You may leave your child’s toy or comfort object with him/her.
d. Before every separation, the teachers will inform you when it is a good time for you to leave. At this point, give your child a hug and words of assurance such as “You will have so much fun with your teacher and friends here. I’m leaving now but I’ll be back to pick you up later”. If the word “goodbye” is a word that triggers anxiety in your child, don’t say the word, say “see you later” instead.
e. Leave the room after you have indicated that you are leaving. Do NOT hesitate or linger around, as this may send mixed signals to your child.
f. Your child might cry (or do more than that). It is perfectly normal and healthy that a child cries and protests when separated from his/her caregiver. Do NOT rush in to pacify your child at this point. Doing that will only reinforces the crying or screaming behavior as your child will think that by crying or screaming, you will come back to her. Let the teachers comfort your child and have the opportunity to form a relationship with the child. Trust that your child is in good hands.
g. Wait in the lobby/reception area and out of sight of child. Without teachers’ advice, do NOT reenter the classroom as this will interfere with the separation process. If you have to leave the vicinity of the centre, make sure you remain contactable on the phone in case the teachers need to reach you (make sure you have provided a valid contact number on your Registration Form).
h. If your child has a favourite song, rhyme or activity, share it with the teachers. Familiar objects or routines can be comforting for your child.
3. Upon Reuniting or At the End of the School Day
a. When it is time to pick your child up, arrive punctually to pick up your child. It may create anxiety when your child does not see you as the other children are reunited with their caregivers.
b. Upon reuniting with your child, greet him warmly and joyfully. Tell him that you have come back for him and ask him about his day at school. Tell him/her how well he has done.
c. Talk to the teachers to find out how your child was in class. Discuss next steps and ideas on how to improve the separation process.
Separation is a process – for the child, for you and for the teachers. Your child needs time to build trust with the teachers, feel safe in the new environment and more importantly, he/she needs time to come to understand that you will always come back to him/her after leaving him/her. As such, the process may take days, weeks or months, depending on individuals and circumstances. Do not rush or pressurize your child in this process.
Your child might become more clingy and difficult at home during the transition period. Maintain a calm, confident and positive spirit and trust that your child will build trust in his new caregivers/teachers, in you and in his/her new environment.