The start of the school year can be filled with excitement, happiness and possibly some anxiety and worry (for both you and your child).  For some students and parents, school can be a challenging and difficult adjustment.  Some children and parents can separate easily and for others it feels more challenging.  Your child may have some anxiety about separating and may not want to come to school, may not want you to leave school, may have stomach aches, disturbed sleep patterns, behavior changes and expressions of worry, fear and/or sadness.  The transition to school may be difficult for some but know that other families are also experiencing some of these challenges and there is a counseling team at Duniway Elementary to provide support for you and your child during this transitional period. 


    What Can Help With Separation Anxiety? 


    Some children will adjust to school and the daily classroom routine without needing additional supports.  Know that your child’s teacher is willing and trained to deal with transitional issues and separation anxiety.  Many children often behave differently at school when their parent is not there and learn to adapt to the classroom structure and routine in short time.  It is ideal, that you leave your child with the teacher to start building rapport and relationships, as well as, establishing the structure and routine of the day.  With these pieces in play, within a short period of time your child will be okay and adjusting to the classroom routine.  The school will be in contact with you should your child need any extra support beyond the techniques the teacher and counseling team will be providing during this transitional time.  In addition, there are many other strategies and ideas you can try to support your child.


    Morning Routine


    Just as many families do a night-time routine, establishing a morning routine that works for your family will help with transition and empower your child by having the knowledge of what to expect.  Children are comforted when they know what is going to happen.  Go over what your morning and what the start of the school day will look like for your family.  We encourage families to choose one activity to do together, then do the brief goodbye.  Having a clear routine can be very helpful, such as; first we sing our morning song on the way out the door as we walk to school, then do a hug, a kiss, a fist bump, or a high five- whatever you choose, and then say goodbye. 


    Remember, even when there are tears, it is important to stick to the routine. Tears are typically short-lived and can be a normal part of the transitional adjustment. On the first day of Kindergarten, the PTA will have coffee on the black top outside near the primary wing for you to connect with other Duniway Kindergarten parents as you transition your child on the first day.  In addition, the school counselors, Ms. Jessy & Ms. Emory will be roaming and checking in with students, parents and teachers and can give you updates if needed. 


    Especially if the transition is filled with emotion and anxiety around separation, it may be tempting to stay with your child and comfort them.  Drawing out the separation can be confusing and ultimately make the transition more difficult.  Sticking to the morning routine and the goodbye plan you discuss in advance will help your child know what to expect, help your child get into a routine, and start building a bond with her/his teacher and will ultimately foster confidence for your child. 


    It may be tempting to “slip away” while your child is engaged if you anticipate a difficult goodbye.  Remember to stick to the routine as it will give your child a role in the plan and gives them a sense of ownership and involvement that supports a trusting relationship. 


    Other Ideas


    * Bring your child to Duniway through the summer and get them acquainted with the playground and being at school.  Duniway’s PTA is hosting a "kindergarten playdate" before school starts on Monday, August 19th from 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. at Duniway’s playground. 


    * Read the book “The Kissing Hand” and cut out paper hearts.  Your child can take the paper heart (with your kiss on it) and put it in their backpack or pocket each day. Some other helpful books geared towards the Kindergarten transition are: “The Night Before Kindergarten”, “Annie’s Adventure to Kindergarten”, “The Goodbye Book” “When I Miss You” “Berenstein Bears Go To Kindergarten”. 


    * Provide your child with a check-off schedule or a chart for getting ready for school. This keeps their mind occupied, helps them feel prepared and helps them feel in control.


    * Create a reward system or “star chart”. Make the goals very realistic and achievable.  Your child can earn “special time” with you if they go to school a certain amount of days, or without behavior outbursts/tantrums, etc…


    * As parents, it is important that we model understanding and a calm, positive outlook while still acknowledging our child’s worries.  Our children can pick up on our anxiety.  It is important that we validate their feelings and reassure them that there are adults at the school that will help support and ease them into the new school year. 


    If you feel your child may have difficulty adjusting or your need further support and ideas, please contact Duniway’s counseling team, Ms. Jessy Gretzinger  jgretzinger@pps.net, or Ms. Emory Oeding eoeding@pps.net.  We look forward to getting to know you and supporting you and your family in the new school year.




    Duniway’s School Counselors

    Ms. Jessy Gretzinger & Ms. Emory Oeding