The Parent Classroom Newsletter > The Month of May: Preparing for Transition
The Month of May: Preparing for Transition

Apr 28, 2010

It’s almost May. And May, I have noticed, is a very tricky month. May is often a month fraught with children’s regressive behavior. My research on this is strictly based on my own observations as a former preschool director and a current marriage & family therapist and parent consultant. But it seems fairly consistent that, as the end of school year approaches and plans for that ending are formulated, children face both the excitement and the anxiety of a new transition.

In May, both children and parents are preparing to say goodbye to familiar classrooms, teachers, routines and social groupings. Children are delighted to be older, bigger, and ready for the next step, but with this change, as with any change, there is a great deal of apprehension.

It is important to recognize the double meanings of this particular period, and to address with children both the promise and the worry of saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new. Here are some tips for doing that:

1. Be prepared. Some of you may be experiencing meltdowns with your children very soon, and for some of you, this may not occur until they begin their new class or summer program. But it is wise to prepare yourself for separation anxieties, even if you don’t see them occurring. Being prepared means to recognize anxiety as an acceptable emotion and see this period for what it is.

2. Help children recognize that they are leaving their current situations because they are growing older and bigger. Call attention to this by identifying the strengths they’ve developed to meet new challenges, make new friends and find their special niche. As children get to know themselves, they become better able to adapt to new situations with courage.

3. Help children understand that endings are a mixed bag. You can feel excited about starting a new grade and happy about the summer, but also nervous about the unknown future, and sad to be leaving the familiar and comfortable. Talk with them and even make a list of both realities: the things that excite them and make them happy, and the things that worry them and make them scared or sad. Remember that change always begins with an ending. You experience the emotions that endings bring up, before you start a new beginning.

4. Give your children as much information as possible about the next step. Find out if your school has a transition policy (visiting the older grade classrooms, meeting the teachers) and if not, ask if you can make arrangements for this to happen. Many schools do not announce their classroom configurations until August. If this is the case, ask if a general visit to the next grade rooms is possible.

5. Find out what the end-of-the-year plans are in your child’s classroom, and reiterate these for your child. Children are creatures of routine, and they benefit from information. Since most teachers do create a routine or ritual for the end of the year, reminding your child of all these plans will help.

6. Be optimistic and confident about this next step for your child. Listen to them and hold for them that, although it is hard to end and say goodbye, a good, new beginning lies ahead. Keep your regular routines and schedules in place. As children experience this state of disequilibrium, they need their parents to be steady and calm.

Jill Shugart, M.A., MFT - 910 Tulare Ave., Berkeley, CA 94707 - 510-528-0309 -
Ca. Lic.#MFT32528



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