When our then three-year-old started going to Montessori, he immediately flourished. He thrived – loved his teachers, constantly talked about and shared details of each of his friends, and was learning so much. At the end of the day, we were receiving raving feedback from his teachers reinforcing our perception about his love for his peers and the school. It felt as though we had made the best decision of our lives. After all, putting your children in positions so grow is a big part of this thing called parenting, right?
Suddenly, three weeks into the program, we started to have real issues at the drop-off in the morning. All of the sudden, he hated school. Kicking and screaming we had to physically remove him from the car. We were perplexed and immediately regretting our decision. It was difficult for us to understand how a kid that thrived in social settings could struggle to go to a place he loved so much. Yet, the 30 minutes leading up to the walk and the actual drop off had become stressful for us all. Drop off was a debacle. There was no reasoning with him. He acknowledged he loved the school, but no amount of conversation could curb his anxiety and struggle.
We started talking with the head of the school and she recommended we have him bring something from home each morning that he could take ownership of but not disrupt the class. We loved the idea, but it’s quite difficult to not disrupt class with an outside object. He was still using his blanket as a nighttime security item, but they weren’t allowed at school. One morning on our walk to school an idea hit us. He’s always had a natural love for books. Why not take a book each day? We suggested the idea to his teacher and she was on board.
She provided us a few weeks worth of curriculum so we could purchase or check out books that accompanied the lessons she was teaching. Finn was immediately enthralled with the idea and took it upon himself to choose a book each night before school so it was ready in the morning. This simple act curbed his separation anxiety almost immediately. He was no longer focused on the separation from us, but he was actively taking pride in the book and the contribution to his class.
If you are experiencing similar issues, talk with your child’s school or care provider and try different scenarios to help curb the focus from the actual separation. You never know.