A friend emailed me yesterday to ask my advice. She was planning her first day to drop off her daughter who had never been away from family before and planned on the whole family coming to school for the first day (mom, dad, brother, grandma, nanny) and wanted to know if I thought that was ok (and did we have room for all of those extra bodies!)? Here is what we told her:
"I would say that in our experience, the more people that come the harder it is for children to separate; they might feel as if they are being left by everyone who the love, etc. This happened today with a preschooler (3 people came to drop her off), she got upset and she is already used to school. It's our experience that things go more smoothly if only one person comes.....But of course, we defer to parents as to what they want!"
She is going to take our advice; but the first day still might be tough.
I have been coaching her to exhude confidence and show her daughter that she feels safe and happy leaving her there, as children can sense the anxiety in their parents and then of course they feel anxious, too.
If a student is upset when their parents leave we comfort the the child and try to coax them into an activity. If still upset after 20-30 minutes we send them home and try again the next time. It usually works out after a couple of days at school that the children are happy to stay with us and give a happy goodbye hug. First days are tough, but pretty soon you will find your child doesn't want to leave school!