Guide to Separation

Tips for your first separation…


During these beginning days, our primary goal is to support your children’s healthy transition to a school-like environment and help them become comfortable with the classroom routines.

If you have not been in to see the studio with your child prior to starting, please schedule a tour, hereWe have found that children who visit before their first day, have a smoother separation, as they are always very excited about returning to Playful Learning. 


Some Guidelines:

No surprises! It’s helpful to talk with your child about what they can expect ahead of time. Explain exactly what will happen when you drop your child off at school, when you will say goodbye (at the door or gate), where you will be, and when you will return. Repeat often.

Establish a routine that works for your child. It’s best if the routine can remain consistent. For example, if your child’s routine is that you give them “two kisses and two hugs” before you say goodbye, it’s best if a similar routine is followed when a different grown-up brings them in. When possible have the same person drop-off every morning, especially in the beginning.

Always tell a teacher when you are leaving and always tell your child when you are going and when you are coming back. The teachers will pay attention to which children/families might need additional support during the goodbye moment and make themselves available to help. Some children may fare better if they are “handed over” to the care of a teacher who will embrace/support them during the transition, while others may do better if they are engaged in an activity or with their peers before the parent says goodbye. The important thing is to determine what works best for your child in setting up a successful transition.

Always say goodbye. While it may be tempting to slip out when your child is playing/engaged, he’ll eventually notice you’re gone. This can be unnerving and make it difficult for the child to relax and trust the process. It’s best to phrase your departure as a statement, rather than question, so you’re not asking permission.

Please follow through when you say you are leaving. When your child is visibly upset, it can be extremely difficult to walk away. It’s tempting to say that you’ll stay for a few more minutes. Unfortunately when you change your plans based on your child’s reaction, it shifts a lot of responsibility onto your child. Much better to say, “I know you’re sad but I’ll…” and do what you say you’re going to do. Trusting and counting on the adult’s words is an important part of the separation process.

Plan to stay close by for the first couple of days. We suggest that you do not leave the property initially in the event your child needs a quick check-in. There will be a designated place for parents to go. Once you and the teachers have determined that your child is ready, you can move on to the next phase of leaving the premises.

If your child is inconsolable and needs to reconnect, the teacher will come find you. Once your child is reassured and engaged, you can try to say goodbye again. 

Please refrain from coming in and out. Sometimes, parents are surprised when their child happily says goodbye and they feel the need to keep checking in, just to make sure they are really okay.  It can feel disruptive to your child if you’ve said goodbye, then return to say goodbye again. If your child says goodbye, take it and make a smooth exit.

If all else fails… If your child is having a difficult time letting you go, a teacher will take out a chair for you to stay in the outdoor play area or inside entry way. During this time, we ask that you stay seated and not to engage with your child in play activities. This way, your child knows you are there for them, but will still be encouraged to branch out and explore independently. Once your child is engaged, a teacher will work with you to decide when it’s a good time to say goodbye.