Hearing the squeals of happiness over the purchase of a new box of crayons and safety scissors confirms the time of year. A new school year is starting up and with it all the excitement a new beginning can bring.
But the beginning of the school year can be difficult for little ones. School begins a huge change in routine and a separation from the basic comforts of home and the child’s usual caregiver. So much change at once can be overwhelming for anyone, but asking a little one to independently manage these changes, and the emotions associated with them, sure feels like a big request.
Our kiddos have always been more anxious than other kids. As a family, we have learned how to manage that anxiety and talk about it very openly. Because of anxiety, preparing for the upcoming school year requires more than simply buying crayons for our family. We need to anticipate worries, times of irrational fears, and provide simple comforts.
This year is big for our family. Our middle daughter is starting kindergarten. This highly empathetic, creative, and intelligent little girl has always found her comfort from my husband and me. She seeks out reassurance that we love her and will always take care of her on a daily basis. If I could follow her to school and just stay 15 feet behind her at all times I would, but that’s not a very practical solution.
So, instead of being a creepy adult stalking outside the kindergarten window, I came up with a different plan. A series of photos of my husband and I signing to her “I love you.” This is a gesture we pass to each other multiple times a day. The printed photos will be taped inside her writing notebook and on her pencil case to be sure she can see a clear reminder of the love she has from her Daddy and Mommy.
This idea isn’t fancy. Some haphazard selfies and a $2 at a one-hour photo accomplished this plan pretty quickly. It took more convincing to get my husband’s participation but there is little that can’t be accomplished with puppy eyes and some well-placed parenting guilt.