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  • Parenting a Montessori Child
A Young Child’s Perspective on Routine and Change

Why the Toddler Five-Day School Week Can Help with Separation Anxiety

The first day of school is just the beginning of your child’s journey toward becoming an independent, confident, and capable person. Parents and teachers can partner in introducing children to new experiences. We can work together to help your child separate from a familial routine and embrace a new, wider community with its own reassuring expectations.

Often, only a few days are required for a child to walk alone into their classroom, confident and comfortable with the idea that he or she is on their own turf. But, routine and the capacity for the child to predict what’s coming next are essential components of a winning strategy.

Why Consecutive School Days Matter

Part of the extensive training for our teachers is to anticipate when and how to nurture confidence in a child. Through repeated observation, we accumulate information about your child’s behavior to gain a comprehensive understanding of when and how (and if!) to proceed with a particular learning strategy.

In our classrooms, children learn over time how to adapt to challenges in an environment customized to their individual needs. This approach leads to long-term resiliency. Consistency is needed for your child to acclimate to a new environment. Consistency is needed for our teachers to better understand how to support your child in gaining knowledge and confidence.

A consecutive five-day school week delivers on multiple levels, both directly and indirectly serving your child’s needs.

Tell Your Child the Facts of School

Fairytales aren’t helpful nor is sugarcoating a significant life change like starting school. Even the youngest of children will appreciate you leveling with them, albeit with you using age-appropriate language and eliminating extraneous details.

Simplify your explanation and talk to your child about the things
that are important to them.

Explain that there will be other children at school. Also, they will have their own cubby for their things, plus a special mat to nap upon. Do not speculate about what your child will or will not do at school. Rather, let them tell you about it when they come home.

Allow your child to experience school without having first viewed it through your words.

Preparation is 99% of a Successful First Day

Consider adopting very practical steps to alleviate separation anxiety. Being proactive, even with the seemingly most inconsequential of actions, can have powerful results.

  • Establish a regular routine for drop-off and pick-up at school.
  • Test this routine well in advance of the first day of school, potentially using a friend’s house.
  • Have a special goodbye ritual, such as two kisses, one hug.
  • Repetition is reassuring, as is brevity.
  • Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep.
  • Have a morning routine that includes a good breakfast.
  • Pack lunches and layout clothing the night before.

A Few Final Words of Encouragement

Lead with the premise that life is a series of attachments and separations and, when transitions are handled with care, new opportunities are most certain to follow. Your child, in turn, will follow suit, also anticipating growth opportunities with open arms.

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