Teary-eyed, Clay Crowe, 4, of Grovetown, gives his mother, Mary, one last hug before she leaves him at his first day of pre-K at Euchee Creek Elementary School in August 2004.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
The first day of school can cause anxiety for children - and often more so for their parents.
Many times the first day of preschool or kindergarten is the first time children have been away from their parents for the length of a school day.
"It is a difficult thing watching your baby go off to school. We are sympathetic to that," said Wanda Golosky, principal of Euchee Creek Elementary School. Parents are allowed to walk pre-Kindergarten children to their Euchee Creek classrooms during the first week of school only.
Euchee Creek, like a few other Columbia County elementary schools, offers Tissues and Tears, a program for first-day parents to talk, or cry, with school counselors after that difficult first-day goodbye.
Golosky said most children are a little anxious but very excited about their first day. But an emotional parent can turn that excitement into fear.
"It's very difficult when they are ready to separate from mom, but mom is blubbering and calling the child back," Golosky said. "Now the child becomes afraid when they see mom crying. They expect the parent to be their security and they get very confused because they are happy to be here."
Tracee Eason, a county pre-K resource coordinator, said being positive on the first day is very important because the child will usually take the lead from their parent.
Eason said the first day anxieties for both parents and children can be eased by being positive and holding the emotional crying for later.
"Be very positive, give your good-byes and go ahead and leave," Eason suggested.
Penny Mitchell, directress of Martinez Montessori Academy on Petersburg Road, said her school has worked a way around the dramatic scene of video cameras and emotions: the front door drop-off.
Parents and children are required to attend an open house before school begins, when children are introduced to their teachers and are shown to their classroom, personal cubby and their desk, Mitchell said. On the first day, parents are not allowed into the classroom and children are dropped off at the door into the hands of teachers.
"Most kids are very excited about the first day. If they have older siblings in school, they are even more excited," Mitchell said. "Parents need to prepare themselves, just like they prepare their child."
Golosky said the parents of her students get a week or two to ease worries knowing their child knows the way to their classroom. But children need to develop their own level of independence because for the rest of the day those children will be using the bathroom themselves, carrying their own lunch tray and getting their own bookbag before climbing on a school bus.
"That independence level is part of what helps them develop self-confidence," Golosky said. "It's understandably very emotional (for parents), very strong, but this is when they have to be stronger."
And when parents get lonely, Golosky said, they should remember, "They have done a good job when that child can go into (school by themselves) safely and confidently."
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