Separation Anxiety: Adjusting to Kindergarten
The third week of kindergarten has just kicked off. If someone were to ask me how it’s going, I wouldn’t be sure how to answer. My daughter seems to love school. She loves the learning aspect of school, is excited to get on the bus each morning, comes home happy, all things I expected. What has totally taken me off guard is the separation anxiety she is going through. She started at Bright Horizons at four months old and minus a few major holidays, was in child care five days a week, 9-10 hours day. Kindergarten should be a piece of cake!
It hasn’t been. Just last week I received an email from the teacher explaining that Madalyn was having a difficult day. She wasn’t herself and seemed to be crying quite a bit. I was really happy the teacher emailed me. It’s been hard adjusting to the lack of communication but that too I expected, it’s a part of growing up. At least I now knew I’d hear from the teacher if Maddie was really struggling. On the day she cried, I couldn’t figure out exactly why (she kept saying she missed me but I didn’t feel like was the full picture). She’s had a few complaints and they’ve been little things – lunch is too short, she wishes she could go to the pick-up line at the end of school instead of getting on a bus – but nothing major.
Then recently I volunteered for picture day at her school. After her picture was taken, she burst into tears. She wanted to go home, she didn’t want to be at school. While her class sat waiting for the other kids, she kept getting up to give me one more hug or one more kiss. I apologized profusely to the teacher. I didn’t know she would react this way. What saddens me is that I will probably have to decline any future volunteer opportunities until she settles further.
Is kindergarten just a very scary place for her? Although she’s been in child care for more than five years, it’s always been with the same kids. She’s so outgoing that most of the kids, regardless of age, knew who she was at Bright Horizons. In fact she went back to child care when school was closed recently and the teachers told me it was like a celebrity was there for the day. Maybe that change is what was causing these floods of emotion.
I am trying to come up with ways to get through this period. I’m thinking of reintroducing a chart system I used with her when she was younger, giving her a sticker for each day she doesn’t cry at school (the honor system of course). Once she gets two weeks worth of stickers, she gets to pick out a new toy.
I’m open to other suggestions though and would also love to hear of other experiences parents are having during the first few weeks of kindergarten.
- E-family news: Getting Ready for Kindergarten – What to Expect
- E-family news: Tips for Reducing Separation Anxiety in Young Children