Let Them Grow: First Day Blues

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Three years ago I wrote a post about (daycare / preschool drop-off) separation and how to make it an adventure. This year, I am the mom, not the not the teacher, and it is far from an adventure; closer to a nightmare.

My three-year-old daughter had no interest in the big adventures her new preschool had to offer. She consistently woke up in the morning adamantly protesting the plans we had made for her. In my mind, I see her sweeping into the classroom with pride and confidence, greeting her teacher and friends. Instead, I was kissing and reassuring, and then ducking through smiling faces trying to escape the sirens of my child calling for me from her teacher’s arms. 

I thought I would be desensitized after years of first day blues, but nothing is so heart wrenching when your child is calling for you to stay and you can’t or you don’t or you think its best to go. It occurred to me in that moment, that time is exceptionally cruel and it is speeding though my daughter’s little life without recourse. We just need more time.

Our new preschool has an amazing transition schedule built into the first week of school. Similar to the one mentioned in my 2014 post. We followed it. But we needed more time. Here’s what helped us.

Play More:  Going to school early and playing at the playground so your child can burn some energy and begin to feel at home. The playground is one of the best selling points for a young child anyhow, so capitalize on that.

Sing the Songs: Ask your child’s teacher what they sang that day and bring those tunes home. I have been singing “Hey Mister Knickerbocker” all week.

Meet Friends: Having a transition buddy really helped us. Meeting our buddy before school and walking in together can make for a great distraction and huge crutch.

Make it fun:  A taco truck lunch box, pink slippers and a unicorn back pack. Check.

As I know from being a teacher, every child transitions differently. It is the parents who need be the keystone and hold it together. By staying calm and positive, you will project the confidence and strength your child needs. They will inherently feel the same… eventually!

[Photo credit: (cc) Maury Landsman]


Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programming for children. She revels in hand-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a day care in Northampton, MA.


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