Seedlings NJ

nurturing children from birth through five years old

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come in!

“If you are a dreamer come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic-bean-buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!”

Invitation by Shel Silverstein

The classrooms are filled with the crinkling sounds of crumpled butcher paper. Flashes of sunlight bounce off of staplers wildly fixing schedules, name tags, and “welcome” signs to the walls. The smell of crayons and freshly sharpened pencils fills the rooms. The teachers are ready for a new school year.

New outfits, carefully selected, are laid out at the foot of the bed. Family photos are stashed in backpacks. Morning alarms are re-set, a stern reminder that the lazy days of summer are over. The parents are ready for a new school year.

Children play in the yard, running and laughing until they are called inside for dinner. Bath, books, and bed time follow, maybe slightly earlier than usual. They fall asleep ready (or not) for the first day of school.

Adults and children alike bring many expectations to the beginning of a new school year. We may be aware of some, but many remain unspoken. There are questions, fears, or things we’re looking forward to. In that moment when we walk through the classroom door, we bring all of it with us. And in the preschool classroom, all of it is welcome.

Our teachers are ready to meet whatever feelings and personalities arrive at the doorstep at the start of the school year. While our classrooms and teachers welcome students, we also remember that the reverse invitation is offered. Our students also welcome us into their lives. They let us know about their families and friends, about their summer travels, and their favorite foods. They show us their favorite toys, talk about special books, and draw pictures depicting their inner worlds.  There is something very magical about the start of each school year, as a special bond develops between teachers and students as these first few weeks unfold.

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Separation can be a complex and emotional time for children and their parents. Some children say goodbye on the first day of school and never look back. Others seem fine at first, but experience feelings of anxiety or sadness weeks after they begin school. Still others seem as though they will never be OK without a parent nearby. Parents may also experience mixed feelings: excitement, sadness, concern. It’s important to remember that the feelings and the process may differ from family to family, but the goal of having our children feel safe and secure when saying goodbye, is one we all share.

What allows children to gently move into a new environment is a feeling of connectedness. This connection can be with a teacher, other children, or an object in the classroom. Teachers and parents can help establish this connection. Bringing a family picture or a “lovie” (blanket, soft toy) to keep in the cubby helps some children. Sometimes, handing your child something from your purse or your pocket to keep until you return, can be reassuring.

The decision of when to leave should be made by the parent, with the teacher’s help. The most important thing is to always say goodbye before leaving. Although it might seem that sneaking out will be less painful for the child, the opposite is usually true. A child may not let his/her parent out of sight if s/he feels that the parent may disappear at any time.

Our experience is that a brief goodbye with the reassurance that the parent will return, works best for most children. Reassure your child that the teachers are there to take care of him/her. Teachers will give children snack, help them in the bathroom, and comfort them when they cry. This helps teachers establish a secure and trusting attachment with their students.

Saying goodbye but not leaving can be confusing for children. They may pick up on a parent’s ambivalence and feel more nervous. They may wonder if they truly can trust the teacher. So when you say goodbye, mean it. Teachers are prepared to comfort a crying child, or help an angry child find a positive outlet for their feelings after a parent leaves. The office is always open to help a sad, crying or anxious parent, too! Feel free to call the school during the day to check on your child. Separation can be a very emotional experience, and at Seedlings, we are here to help your family through it!

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first day.

Starting school or transitioning to a new classroom is a major milestone for children and parents. It can be both fun and stressful. It is not uncommon to experience a wide range of feelings, sometimes within the same day. Parents may notice changes in a child’s sleep patterns, bathroom habits, or emotional responses. Children often become clingy, or revert to earlier stages of development. In most cases, this is a short phase, and children will return to their former selves once they have processed some of the changes.

Parents have the opportunity to influence their child’s experience through preparation and communication. Here are some suggestions for how parents can support their child through a transition:

  • Talk to your child about what to expect at school: activities (circle time, playground, lunch, nap), the toys, and the other children
  • Let your child know it’s OK to feel nervous or excited, or even confused about starting school, and try to reassure him/her
  • Give your child a family picture or familiar object from home that will comfort him/her
  • Remind your child that you will be back later. It is crucial for children to hear the message that “Mommy and Daddy always come back”
  • Talk to your child’s teacher to make a plan for drop-off

Children may find comfort on some familiar books that address the challenges and fears of starting school. Here are some of our favorites:

  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
  • Will I Have a Friend? by Miriam Cohen
  • Timothy Goes to School by Rosemary Wells
  • Mouse’s First Day of School by Lauren Thompson
  • My First Day at Nursery School by Becky Edwards
  • Do I Have to Go to School? by Pat Thomas

Our teachers can be a very valuable resource, and we want you to know that we are here to work with your whole family to support you through this transition. Every child goes through the separation process on his/her own timeline. With patience and reassurance, each child will have an exciting and rewarding school experience.