Dear Dr. Rene,
My daughter will be four in September and has never participated in any program away from me. She is very resistant to the idea, but will be starting preschool in the fall. Is it okay for preschool to be her first experience away from me, or should I force the issue this summer?
Karen, Mother of One
I think it would be good to have at least a few experiences over the summer. You might sign up for a few single drop-off classes and or short camp session. You might also just schedule babysitters more often and practice that way.
That said, it is also fine for preschool to be her first experience with separation. Experienced preschool teachers have dealt with initial transitions and separation anxiety. Most expect this to some degree every September. To be fair to all involved though, you might contact the teacher prior to school and let her know you expect some difficulty. It would be good to have an understanding of the school’s drop-off procedures and guidelines for managing separation issues.
It may also be helpful (if allowed) to play on the school’s playground over the summer. Take advantage of any preview experiences such as a home or classroom visit. Ask for a class list so you can start playdates over the summer months, this way you ensure a few familiar faces on the first day. Take pictures of the other children and teacher as soon as you can and give these to your child to help them make connections.