He came the day before to the classroom visit with mom and happily explored the classroom, played with the new toys, and didn’t want to leave. Mom was happy, I was happy, the child was happy. It was going to be a great year!
The next day he returned for his first day of school. But instead of eagerly coming in to the class to play, he hid behind mom not wanting to have any contact with me or the other children. As it became clear to him that mom was not going to stay, the tears started and he cried out her name - nonstop. Then mom did what I hope all parents would have the courage to do. She reassured him, hugged him goodbye, and walked away. She could still hear his cries as she walked down the hall and out the door. She was halfway to her car when her own tears began to fall. Walking away is not easy.
By walking away though, she gave me the chance to help him feel safe in his new environment. A few more tears, a couple hugs, and the distraction of a dancing snowman (in September!) and he was ready to be a part of the class. He felt safe and was now willing and open to having fun. Within 5 minutes he was dressed as a fireman and on an emergency call with another child. He was going to have a good day.
The second day of school he entered the classroom ahead of mom, barely telling her goodbye, and was ready to take on the world. The key was feeling safe. Once he felt safe in his environment and felt safe by knowing mom was not worried (at least not in front of him!) then he was ready to make the most of it.
Thanks "mom" for helping him and helping me start on the path to a great school year!