How Does Your Child's School Handle The Separation Process?

separation anxiety

Now that most school's have started and first-day jitters are behind us, I asked parents to weigh in on their school's separation policies and how effective these policies are for dealing with separation anxiety. Separation policies range from gentle separation, where parents can stay in the classroom the whole time, to much less gentle methods where parents are asked to drop their child outside the building and are not permitted to come inside.

Most schools have different rules for different age groups. 

What type of separation methods do you think work best?

Parent #1: The school recommends short and sweet drop-offs and no lingering around. If my kids do get upset, they usually calm down after a few minutes. But never just disappear; say goodbye and assure your kids that you are coming back.

Parent #2: My daughter was a mess at our first school. I think one reason, looking back, was that the school did not have an intro day. Her new school has a "Hello Day," where kids come for an hour or two, meet their classmates and teachers and explore the classroom. It helps with first day jitters. 

Parent #3: For my son's 2's class, the school does gentle separation for the first week where the parents can choose to stay in the classroom or wait outside. If your kid is losing it, parents stay in classroom, if your kid is teary but ok parents stay outside in another room and if your kid fine, they want parents in a 10 block radius.

My child couldn't run away from me fast enough!

Parent #4: Separation can be so stressful.My son's school does a gradual separation which is helpful, but they ask you to stay close by or in the building the first few days as well depending. We talked about separation a lot beforehand. That mommy goes bye-bye mommy always comes back.

He would hear it so much that when we talk Abt it he finishes the sentence with "bye bye" and "back". That was helpful. And the school asks for pics of the family for that purpose but not sure how often they use it. I would at least ask if you can bring. For him a quick goodbye hug and repeating that sentence outside the classroom at drop off worked.

Parent #5: My daughter has pretty much always just ran away from me, but first week of 2's was also gradual separation for the first week. The kids do bring in picture and teachers do different things with them. Last year, her placemat was made out of a family picture. Each kid is so different.  Some kids in her class cried every single day the entire year at drop off.

Parent #6: I always do the "push me out of the door" methods. My kids love that and it works. The quicker the better really. I unpack their bag, say hi to the teacher, have them push me out the door and I'm gone. That's what the school recommends. If it's really severe I have seen a kid who has the teacher meet him at the front door.

The parent doesn't even come in the building. For some reason that seemed to help.

Parent #7: Parents are allowed to drop off at 9 and are encouraged to by 9:15. They are encouraged not to bring outside toys, etc. The initial separation went well. It was after the newness and excitement wore off that my third had issues. She would cry a little and act very shy. Her teachers were great at getting her involved in the morning. I told her I'd be back later, gave her a kiss and left. When she cried they came over and encouraged her to join the group. I just kissed her and said my goodbyes. I worked in childcare when I was in my twenties and I believe it is best not to linger--reassure and leave. (

Parent #8: The school didn't provide any policy so I made it my own policy to not linger and not to walk them to their classrooms as I didn't think it would be helpful to my kids. We said our goodbyes by the car or bus and made a quick separation once we were in the building. It always worked for us. I also know our elementary school never allows outside toys unless it's a special activity day and our daycare let them have loveys only for nap. (valeegrrl)

Parent #9: My son just started an all day Pre-K program. It was year two of school, but that didn't make it any easier (on me!). I took him into his classroom and we chatted with some new friends. At one point I told him I'd be right back, and I stood up and left. I saved the tears for watching through the door...where I saw he was just fine. I used to be a teacher, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy...but this was harder than I thought! (lilburghers)

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