Separation and back to school

Going back to schools can be more difficult for some students.

Children and caregivers can both experience mixed feelings about going back to school.
Children and caregivers can both experience mixed feelings about going back to school.

Going back to school or starting school for the first time can be a challenge. Children have to adjust to a new teacher, new class room and, for some, leaving a caregiver for the first time.  All children will go through a separation process, but each situation will look different depending on the child.  Some children will be happy and excited to make the transition to be on their own and away from their caregivers. More commonly, children will have mixed feelings about separating from their families which can be a daunting task. 

According to Michigan State University Extension, having mixed feelings is completely normal.  From a child’s perspective there are many questions like where is the bathroom? Will the teacher like me? Will the other kids like me? What if they forget to pick me up?  On the other hand there is new place with lots of new toys and some other kids to play with; this can be very fun and exciting.  Caregivers can also experience mixed feelings about going back to school as well.  It can be difficult to watch your children struggle with this new experience, at the same time be very exciting to watch them begin a new chapter in their life. 

It will typically take a few weeks for children to settle into a routine. Some children may cling to their caregiver’s leg or even cry, while some children may race into the room without even a backward glance.  Each child is different, so it is important not to make comparisons between children.  However, sometimes parents may need to seek extra support for their children.  If weeks go by and your child won’t leave your side, if they begin to show signs of stress at home, changes in eating or sleeping routines, this may be the time to look for assistance from the teacher or other professionals.

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