June 23, 2015
  • Dear ECF families,

    My name is Geraldine Hahn, ECF Parent Coordinator. I would like to share with you some information and tips about separation anxiety.

    At the beginning of the school year some of you may experience some difficulties with the transition to preschool. I would like to reassure you. It is natural for your little one to feel anxious when you say goodbye and separation anxiety is a normal stage of development.

    How to help your child relax and learn to look forward to going to preschool?

    • Confront the problem head-on: The best way to cope with preschool separation anxiety is to just deal with it. You might think that sneaking out is the best strategy to use and it might make you feel better because you don’t have to witness a meltdown but the reality is, that within minutes of parents’ exit, most children happily settle down and forget what all the fuss was about.
    • At home: In the morning, before coming to school, talk to your child in simple words about what his day is going to be: tell him about his new playmates, routines, games and activities; the delicious snacks and meal he will enjoy and all the fun things he will learn.

    Prepare his backpack with him and pack a comfort object if he is attached to one: blanky, preferred stuffed animal, pacifier. You can also put a family picture or even make a little photo album together so your child can look at the pictures while at school.

    Something that will remind him of home and help him make the transition.

    • Keep your own anxiety under cover: If your child thinks you are nervous about leaving him at school, he will be too. Talk about how much fun he is going to have and that he is going to be just fine.
    • Say goodbye: Never leave without saying goodbye properly. Develop a goodbye ritual with your child (rituals are reassuring and preschoolers crave them). Whatever it is, make it special between the two of you and make sure you do it every single time. Don’t forget to tell him you’ll be back later at pick-up time, and then walk out the door.

    Don’t delay, don’t give him “one more minute,” don’t linger. You’ve brought him to preschool, now it’s time to let him be a preschooler.

    • Don’t hang around: If your child starts to cry when you leave, resist the urge to turn back and rescue him. Leaving your child crying is not easy but going back to him will only encourage the outbursts to continue and possibly cause him to lose confidence in his ability to stay in preschool without you. Trust him, he will be able to do it.
    • Trust your child’s teachers: Preschool teachers know how to help calm your little one down. From redirecting to a new activity to simply giving your child a hug and offering comfort, they know what works best and what doesn’t. You chose this preschool for a reason. You know that your child is safe there and will have a good time with his teachers and friends.
    • Don’t be late for pick up: No matter who is picking your child up, whether it is you or someone else, make sure you are there on time. If you are late, it can cause your child even more anxiety and make dropping him off the next time much harder.
    • At pick up time: Your child may run to you for a hug or just say hi or even ignore you. Just follow his lead.
    • Talk to your child about how he feels and why. Ask him what makes him so upset about you dropping him off at preschool. Share a story about a time that you may have felt scared or nervous about something and how you dealt with it. Talk about why you want your child to go to preschool and how much fun he is going to have over there. Address his fears or concerns while assuring him that you will always be there to pick him up when his school day is over.
    • Be prepared for regression: Just when you think you finally have preschool separation anxiety under control, along comes an illness or a vacation that keeps your child out of school for a few days and… it’s back again. This is perfectly normal. While upsetting, it won’t last and your child should go back to his cheerful self at drop-off time quickly.
    • Home visits: Home visits can also be a great way to help children transition to preschool. It encourages the school and parents to enhance their relationship with the child and it helps build a bridge between home and school. Please contact me if you wish to set up an appointment. I’ll be happy to come visit you at home.


    Starting preschool is a big step for the whole family. With understanding, patience and coping strategies, separation anxiety can be relieved. It just takes some time.

    We encourage conversation between parents; find a neighbor in the school garden or in the roster and start a friendly conversation. If you are returning to Claire Fontaine, please be a school host and welcome the new families to our school. Parents’ roles are vital to our school community.

    At Claire Fontaine, we love to create and develop a secure relationship with you, to build a strong partnership for the benefit of all.



    Geraldine Hahn

End of the year photosDoes it Take Two to Tantrum?