From Toddler-Time to Pre-Kindergarten, our students and teachers have come together this week creating their classroom communities. This may look like play but our students are doing hard work! Change and transition are challenging, even for adults. We all approach the first days of school with a spectrum of emotions ranging from excitement to nerves. Even teachers are not immune to those “First Day Jitters”.
Whether your student experienced feelings of excitement or feelings of anxiety, their bodies are responding to those emotions the same way. As my pediatrican says “Even good stress is STRESS.” By the time they get home they are tired and, most likely, a little cranky. HFYH staff can tell you that ALL of these big feelings and behaviors are normal for the first days (and weeks) of school.
Some children will even begin to experience an increase in tantrums or crying at home. This is called “After school restraint collapse” and it’s very common. This is due to over stimulation, processing new experiences and even frustrations over a new environment with a different set of rules and expectations. It is difficult for them to express in words all the big feelings happening inside them so it escapes through tears and tantrums. In a nutshell, they hold it together to get through school then let it out and vent their emotions in their safe spaces (at home with family).
This is not an indicator that there is anything wrong with school, the child or parents. It’s just our tiny friends’ way of adjusting to their new routine.
Here are some ways you can help love them through the growing pains:
- Make a connection- Let them know how happy you are to see them and that they were missed.
- Do something joyful- Dance, sing a silly song or play. Whatever it takes to make them laugh!
- Have a tasty snack prepared- This can even be in the car on the way home.
- Don’t overschedule or overstimulate- Give them some peaceful time after school at home to relax before rushing off to the next destination.
- Calm energy- Respond to crying or tantrums with gentle words and empathy. “I bet you’re feeling tired. ” “Was it a long day for you?”
No parent can accomplish ALL of these tasks 100% of the time but making yourself aware and having a plan will be a big help in guiding them through the social and emotional work of starting school.
You can be assured that your teachers and directors at Home For Your Heart School will be handling your child with some ‘TLC’ as we continue through the start of school.
-Erica Hirsch, Assistant Director HFYH