Tips for Smoother Drop-Offs

Drop-off for your little one at any program can be a challenge. You are their safe place in the big wide world. The lack of walls and coziness can make it extra hard. Attachment is a tricky business, oddly enough they say your child cannot be attached to more than one adult at a time which is part of why drop-off can be a balancing act if your child is resistant to attaching to another care-giver. I like to think we are pretty good at what we do and I know we will be there to support you and your child at drop off.

Here are our suggestions for a smoother drop-off routine.

  1. Talk to your child about what will happen during drop-off and pick-up, this is called “front-loading”.
    Remind them of your morning routine, tell them what you are doing while they are at Forest School, maybe share something they have to look forward to afterwards. Avoid rewarding with treats and gifts as this dispels their intrinsic motivation and sets you down a path of having to be the external motivation for your child.
  2. Keep a consistent routine each class no matter who is dropping off.
    See below.
  3. Honor your word.
    If you say you will leave/stay when a certain thing happens then you MUST follow through. When we let our children down in these small ways, even if it is to give-into their demands we stay we create insecurity in them because we have failed to be the leader in the relationship. More on this subject here >
  4. Be absolutely sure you say good-bye to your child and that they know you are leaving.
    DO NOT sneak away unless you have already said good-bye. Again this how we build trust.
  5. Leave the picnic area or the park if your car is visible from the picnic area.
    Your child is absolutely brilliant at knowing where you are and I promise they look for you as long as you remain in the park.

Here is a sample drop-off routine suggestion:

  • Choose a stick together in the parking lot to play the musical bridge as you walk over.
  • Say good morning to whoever is holding the green binder and doing sign-in
  • Encourage your child to put their backpack in the line up on their own (or with you) while you check-in with staff about anything they should know (ie. out of ear shot of your child – you could also do this as you leave.
  • Head over to the tarp/blanket to explore the nature museum and art project for the morning.
  • Help your child connect with the teacher at the blanket (she will probably do this automatically cuz it’s her job but she may be engaged with another student and miss your arrival)
  • Say good-bye to your child in some ritualistic manner
    • Give a ‘kiss” in their hand like Chester and his Mom
    • Give three hugs and blow a kiss
    • Touch noses
    • Howl from the parking lot before you get in your car

It doesn’t really matter what your routine is so long as it is consistent and full of love.

Additional tips:

  • Have a clear prompt that you will leave by:
    • When Miss Krystal’s crickets go off at 9:04 (this won’t work if you are late 😉
    • When the teacher’s sing the circle song, “Round and round the earth is turning….”
    • When 6 children have arrived, count together (don’t make it a specific child because they may be away that day)

Remember YOU are the leader and YOU are in control.
Drop-offs get easier the more consistent of a loving authority you can be.
It is when we wobble on anything in our lives that we cause ourselves (and those around us!) grief 😉

  • The Kissing Hand is a heartfelt book about Chester the Raccoon’s first days at school. We have a few copies here and it is available at the library. Reading this book with your child can help start the conversation about their emotions.
  • Who’s in Charge – Reclaiming the Lead this is an excellent article about an issue we frequently see. It can provide some insight into what is going on emotionally for your child when we waiver on our decisions.

I hope this is helpful. Parenting is hard. It asks us to be our most fully realized versions of ourselves without any guidance or many role models. You are doing an amazing job just by showing up and wanting to do better.

When we know better, we do better.

Wishing you smooth drop-offs and slow transitions.

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