Children are surprisingly resilient and adaptable, but change can still be difficult. If your child is just beginning his or her Montessori experience, it’s important to make the transition as stress-free and easy as possible, which will also make it easier on you.
The good news is that there are a few simple things you can do to ensure a seamless transition at the beginning of the school year.
Practice some pre-arrival routines (and good manners): In the weeks and days before school begins, take a few trips with your child to the Montessori grounds so they begin to get familiar with the environment. If there’s a playground, spend some time there with your child.
You can also do a trial-run of the car pool. Mimic the trip from your house so that your child becomes accustomed to the trip. It’s important during this time to make this a fun experience, so be enthusiastic and very positive, so they experience the trip as a new adventure.
If you haven’t already worked with your child on social skills (or need to strengthen them), spend some time teaching them about keeping their hands to themselves, waiting patiently for their turn, not interrupting others, and other respectful behaviors.
Prepare together: The night before the first day, spend some time together choosing that special outfit, and have it ready to go for the morning. Practice putting on and taking off shoes. It’s a good idea to practice bathroom runs too, including wiping, to help avoid accidents.
Label your child’s things, shoes and jacket, in case they can’t distinguish them from others. Make sure you pack any specific items the teacher has requested. Pack a comfort item in the child’s backpack too, such as a stuffed animal.
Make drop-offs quick and painless: Get an early start on the morning of the first day. You don’t want to be rushed – that will only cause undue stress.
Try and arrive at car pool right on time; too early and you may cause some anxiety for your child as you sit and wait. When it’s time, aim for a quick and happy good-bye with little or no fanfare. This is also a good time to ask the teacher if your child can bring a comfort item to keep in their backpack.
If needed, reassure your child that you’ll be back soon to pick them up. It’s important not to linger and, at all cost, hold back any tears – it’s in the best interest of your child not to make a scene!
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst: Although you hope it doesn’t happen, it’s completely normal for there to be a meltdown when dropping your child off. For some children, it’s a scary experience (but a little less with some of the preparation above). Keep a brave face, and simply ask the teacher to call you if you need reassurance that they have stopped crying.
Stay the course: The first few days and even weeks will likely be the toughest for some children. That’s why it’s important not to give in at the beginning and not skip a day. If you stay strong, eventually your child will adjust and grow to love the Montessori experience!