Taking Attachment Parenting to School

by Amber Strocel on September 17, 2010

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My firstborn Hannah is now 5 years old, and we have decided to enroll her in our local public school for kindergarten. We made this decision for a number of reasons, but mostly what it comes down to is that this is what works best for our family. We all have to make our own choices when it comes to school and separating from our children (or not).

As I write this, school has already started, but Hannah is still at home. At our school new kindergartners attend the first day to take attendance and get assigned their classes. Then their parents meet one-on-one with the kindergarten teacher before class gets underway. Once those meetings are all complete there will be a gradual entry process before we get into the full swing of things. We are still very much in the preparation stages before starting kindergarten.

So far, I have been quite impressed by our interactions with the school. Hannah’s teacher is caring and compassionate. She looks at the students as whole people, and at this stage she is focused more on social and emotional skills, rather than academic milestones. The kindergarten classroom contains a variety of toys and materials, including spaces for imaginative and dramatic play.

Even though I am confident in our choice of school, I still have fears as we embark on this journey. I think this is normal. I wonder how will things turn out, and what will Hannah think of school. My own school experiences played a large role in my childhood, and I know they will in Hannah’s, too. As her mother, I hope that her experiences are as positive as possible.

Outside the school
Hannah outside of the school on the first day of kindergarten

To help make the transition into public school gentle for Hannah, I’m looking for ways to remain connected. I believe that a secure attachment can make a big difference to children, even as they grow older and naturally move towards greater independence. And so I’m developing an attachment parenting style for my school-aged child. Here’s what it looks like so far:

  • I involve Hannah in choosing school snacks, school clothes, school supplies and so on. I want her to have a say in the decisions I make surrounding school.
  • My husband and I both attended the welcoming conversation with her teacher, and agreed on some goals for Hannah’s entry into school. We want to all be on the same page.
  • I am volunteering as a Girl Guide leader with Hannah’s unit, and I plan to volunteer in her classroom as I am able. I want to be involved with Hannah’s education and extra-curricular activities, while still maintaining a personal balance of my own.
  • I am helping Hannah work through her emotions surrounding the new school. She is very excited but also a little bit nervous, and I am doing my best to listen to her, validate her feelings and empower her to handle this transition.
  • We have visited the school playground and had some playdates with the children who will be in Hannah’s class, so that she has some familiarity with the school and children before starting.

I am confident that with a little bit of nurturing, we can maintain a strong attachment throughout Hannah’s school years. This is a big change for us, but also an exciting one. Parenting is never short of adventures, and now we’re starting on a new one together.

Do you have school-age children? How have you helped them to handle the transition into school? What worked, and what didn’t? I could use more tips, if you have them!

You can catch up with Amber’s adventures on her blog at Strocel.com.

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Amber Strocel (31 Posts)

Amber is a hippie mama to two, a writer, a dreamer, a student, an erstwhile engineer and a lover of chocolate. She lives in suburban Vancouver with her family and one very cranky tabby cat. Keep up with her on her blog at Strocel.com.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

kelly @kellynaturally September 17, 2010 at 10:30 am

Hey Amber, I didn’t know you wrote here too! :)

I love your attitude that school is just another adventure you’re embarking on together. Its so true!

My youngest has just started in primary this year – its been a week & a half, and the transition has been a little rough…
I find asking them to draw picutres, or if you start talking about YOUR day, encourages them to talk about their day.

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BluebirdMama September 17, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Sounds like you have some great strategies in place, Amber. I enjoyed this post. One thing I might add which I read in Gordon Neufeld’s Hold Onto Your Kids, is that it is also important to help the child develop an attachment to the teacher. According to Neufeld, adult relationships at this age are more important than peer relationships and the teacher-child attachment can serve as a substitute when you are not present. This starts with your introduction of the child to the teacher and I’m sure can be reinforced in other ways too. This would be something that I would definitely be bringing up with the teacher in our joint meeting if I had sent my son to public school. I am impressed that you and your husband got the opportunity to have this one-on-one meeting with the teacher ahead of time. That’s awesome!

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Larissa September 17, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Over here in UK they start at 4. My daughter just started reception which i guess is like kindergarten.It’s structed play. Kind of. And she’s there from 9.15 – 3.15 every day except weekends. Actually I think we have both found the seperation more difficult than I thought. Despite her being in nursery before this every day from 9.30-1.00.
We didn’t have one to ones with her teacher but we did have meetings and one to ones with the head and tours around her classrooms.
It’s sad that the only way I feel I can add part of me during the day is to make her packet lunch. She could have school dinners but tbh I’m not that impressed with them. They have to cater for kids who won’t eat vedge etc .. and it shows.
Anyway .. so we did packed lunch practice the week before to find out how much she ate and what and to make sure she could get into everything. And I ask her what she wants in it,
I want to see if i can go in and do stuff with them as they do have parents help out but i would have to have thier nursery watch my 8 month old. I wish they had ‘show and tell’. Because I turned up with acorns and concers after a walk one day before picking her up and the teacher just shrugged. :(
I let her take her time going in in the morning and give her all the hugs she needs and if need be help her imagine what she’s going to do for the day. AFter a teary discusson this morning she was happy enough once she had decided that going and sitting in the reading corner and having arest might be a good idea. And I get there early so i can get to know other mothers. It’s hard work though.. but worth it.
Oh I’m also taking more time to sit downa nd play with her before and after school as I have noticed she’s role playing school more with her toys. Good luck!

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