The Tear-Free School Drop-off: From Upset to Empowered

  • Child Development
Dana Kohls

We're a couple weeks into school and it's only natural that young learners are realizing they are no longer in the "honeymoon" phase of back-to-school. This is their new regular routine and some behaviors may be showing up in your child that are natural and not an indication of whether or not they like school. You may have noticed your child is more likely to cry or share, “I don’t want to go to school.”

As a parent, you're probably asking yourself: "What can I do?"

Every child is different. Ultimately, asking yourself: "What the magical thing that needs to happen now?" will support them (and you) with a drop-off experience that leads to fewer tears.

Prepare the Night Before
We may take for granted that we know what's going to happen: however,  our youngest students are still developing a sense of time and of daily schedules. Prep them with a conversation the night before school and encourage them to make a checklist and mark off the items that they’ll need the next morning. Reassure them that you will both see each other again just after school. Structure and routine provide comfort and safety for young learners.

Quick Drop Off
Students who have separation anxiety fare better during drop-off if the process is a quick one: a quick kiss and “ you got this.” When we make it short and sweet we are inadvertently telling our children that we believe in them and their capacity to do hard things. It may be time to shift from walking your student to the door to beginning the Kiss-N-Go carline that the big kids use. Make a game of the experience by encouraging them to be ready and counting out the seconds it takes them to get out the door (7 seconds being the goal)!

On occasion, some of our youngest learners just need a hug and 5 minutes of someone to listen to them (as many of us adults do, too). As their parent, you’ll know the days when that’s the magical thing that will best support their learning. If it’s not everyday, it’s ok to step your student aside and nurture them before walking them to the door. The trick is doing it prior to arriving at the door for drop off. You’ll know when that’s necessary and if it’s daily, you may try Kiss-N-Go as an option to see if that makes everyone’s experience smoother.

These strategies can support you in changing your experience, and your child's from one of upset to empowered as leaders of self. For more thoughts on supporting your student, check out this blog for some helpful strategies.



About the Author

photo of Dana Kohls

Dana Kohls, Lower School Director

Dana holds both a Bachelors Degree in Liberal Studies and a Masters Degree in Development and Technology from California State University. Dana brings 18 years of teaching experience to Aspen Academy and has served as a Mathematics Committee Leader, District Professional Learning Advisor and Technology Team Leader.



B.S., Liberal Studies, California State University
M.A., Development and Technology, California State University