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School Drop-Off Strategies

Even if your child went to preschool, starting TK or kindergarten is still a new transition and experience. Saying goodbye can sometimes be emotional for both of you, so here are some ways to help you and your child with school drop-off.

Mother giving son a piggy back ride

School drop-off is a busy time of day – whether it’s on the first day of school or a regular week. Although most children adjust quickly and are excited to go to school, some can have a hard time saying goodbye to their parents or caregivers. Your reassurance and encouragement can help your child trust that school is a happy, fun, and safe place to learn. Here are some tips to help with drop-off:

Before the first day of school, prepare your child for the new experience. Have your child visit the school and attend any orientations before school starts. Arrange playdates with other children going to the same school and meet the teacher, if possible. Talk about the school and the fun parts of the school day. Read books about school and saying goodbye.

Arrive early to allow time for your child to adjust. Especially during the first days of school, you’ll want to have extra time in the morning to find parking, walk up to the classroom, and/or play on the playground before the morning bell. Being rushed can add to the stress of drop-off, so try to arrive early. This will also teach your child the importance of going to school on time every day.

Be cheerful and upbeat. Your child will know by the sound of your voice if you’re worried or upset. Smile, laugh, and tell your child the plan for what will happen once school gets out, including who will be picking him up, and where.

Create a goodbye routine. Give your child a kiss to “hold” in her hand while you’re away, sing a special “see you later” song together, or give an extra big bear hug.

Leave a favorite object behind. Bring along your child’s favorite stuffed animal, toy, or blanket to help ease the transition from home to school. Remind your child that they can keep the favorite object in their backpack at school.

Hold back from the “rescue.” Once you leave the room, try not to look back, even if you hear your child crying. Experienced teachers know how to properly care for your child, and if you run back, your child will think that he needs to be with you all the time. This will likely make it harder for your child to transition to school. If you need some reassurance that your child is doing well, wait for a few minutes outside the room and talk to the teacher at pick up about how the morning went.

QUICK TIP: Ask your child’s teacher what the first activity of the day is so you can talk about it together on the way to school. It’s a great way to get your child excited for the day ahead!

First 5 California
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First 5 California
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