Back to School / Early Childhood Learning / Ages 2-7

How to Handle Hard School Drop-offs

Big feelings happen. Here are some tricks for handling those time-to-go tears.

Going to school for the first time is a huge transition for the whole family. Sometimes, big feelings can come up even a few weeks into the school year, making drop-offs unexpectedly hard.

Here’s what our Navigators recommend for handling the time-to-go tears:


Bring a special reminder of your connection.

Some families like to send a reminder of home, like a family photo tucked into your child’s backpack. You could also choose a pair of small charms or special rocks—one for you to keep, and one for your child to hold in their pocket or lunchbox, as a reminder of your love for them.


Read about it.

Books about school anxiety can be helpful for starting conversations at home. Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney, Wemberley Worried by Kevin Henkes, and The Pigeon HAS to Go to School by Mo Willems are all hits around here.


Okay their feelings.

Adjusting might take time. Remind them that it’s okay to feel sad. Reassure them that you’ll see them soon and keep the goodbye routine brief, if you can.


Check your own feelings, too.

Small children are like wolves: They smell your fear. Stay strong at the door, and unload your worries on a friend or coworker once drop-off is over.


Celebrate their bravery.

Plan something to look forward to at the end of the week. It can be small but special for your family, like a visit to a favorite playground or an ice cream outing. (Does this sound like bribery? Hey, we’re parents, too.)

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