Being a parent means your shadow is now a tiny version of yourself that sometimes clings to your legs instead of the pavement. It means hiding in the closet to eat a candy bar so you don’t have to share, and high-fiving tiny hands that reach under the door to congratulate you when you’re using the potty.
It also means crying the first time you give a big hug around a tiny backpack, and leave to do a preschool drop off.
What makes this generation of kids really interesting, is how the pandemic has impacted the relationship between them and their parents. Before we were all plunged head-first into lockdown life, kids were interacting with so many different faces. From grandma and grandpa playing bubbles, to the server who waited patiently while they tried to order nachos and icecream for dinner.
The loss of a village means it now all falls on parents. That’s a heavy weight to carry alone, and one that can have a massive impact on a child’s social and emotional learning.
For these reasons, the pandemic will likely cause preschool drop offs to become a nightmare in a whole new way. Read on to learn how you can anticipate the new needs of families in ECE, and how to prepare your center for the hardest goodbyes yet.
To put it bluntly, Starbucks just doesn’t cover it.
As eager as parents may be to drop their little munchkins off at preschool after years of on-again off-again lockdowns, we can expect to see some disappointment and separation anxiety as well.
As schools and offices continue to reopen, we are likely going to see:
For the past two years, parents have worn the hats of educators, primary caregivers, and the occasional space alien who’s fighting monsters in between filling out spreadsheets. 👽
We’ve seen kids bond with their primary caregivers in a way we’ve never experienced before. No matter which way you look at it, the shutdown transformed the dynamic between parents and kids.
This year, we can expect preschool drop off to be full of emotions on both sides.
Throughout the shutdowns, many parents have been forced to take on the role of educators.
For some families, this may be an eye-opening experience to what teachers go through every day. Parents are coming out with more appreciation for teachers, but also, with a greater understanding of their own child’s needs.
We may see this new understanding intertwine with separation anxiety, making parent-teacher communication a top tier priority this year.
Understanding a parent’s need to communicate closely around their child’s day will help build confidence at drop off and set the tone for healthy parent involvement throughout the school year.
Here are some ways to improve communication with parents:
And last but not least, ditch the paperwork. It’s no secret millennial parents tend to lean more towards digital communication, but also consider that parents have enough on their plate, it’s hard to remember physical forms that need to be filled out.
Papers get crumpled, chewed on, and lost. A simple child care app or even email update can make the process much easier for everyone.
Already a MomentPath user? With a single tap of the app, parents can use Express Drive Up to update their ETA and let teachers know they’re on the way!
It’s understandable that some parents will feel a level of anxiety returning a child to school.
Psychologically speaking, there are a wide variety of reactions a person may have to a situation they have no control over. When it comes to the pandemic, the data just isn’t there for parents to make informed choices. And yet, in the age of the internet, parents are getting information thrown at them from all different angles.
We’ve definitely been seeing families on both sides of the spectrum when it comes to things like mask wearing and sanitization in the classroom. While you will never be able to make every single family happy with your approach to tackling the pandemic, making parents feel safe dropping their child off will help the process, and prevent kids from picking up on any anxiety.
Here are some ways to help ease that anxiety at drop off:
Listen to parent concerns (even if you can’t apply them).
Tell parents what to expect before it happens:
Share your safety plan and actively update as adjustments are made
Let’s take a moment of silence for all the parents who have been personally victimized by Cammie the soccer mom. 😔
In the past, parental guilt stemmed from judgmental comments, often coming from other parents. If you aren't making homemade dog food using the scraps from the organic lunch you made your two-year-old, Cammie (or someone like her) is going to have things to say.
This year, parental guilt goes far beyond forgetting show and tell, or dropping the kids off in pajama pants — and there is still so much we don’t know about Covid-19.
Throw one bad morning into the mix, and it’s easy to see how the simple act of dropping off your child at preschool can quickly turn into a nightmare scenario for overwhelmed parents.
Here are some ways to use drop off as an opportunity to remind parents how awesome they’re doing:
Reinforce parents on their child’s progress since they’ve been out of school.
A simple “good job keeping them alive” goes a long way.
Tell them point-blank “You’re not messing them up.”
Share educational resources:
When it comes to young kids and preschool drop offs, we all know how it goes.
The waterworks come on the moment their parent heads for the door, and stop the second they leave. For reasons already mentioned, drop offs may be even harder on children than we’ve seen in the past.
Even first-year students tend to have had days or nights away via the occasional babysitter.
But the pandemic has caused many parents of infants and young children to feel less comfortable leaving a child with a sitter. More time balancing work and kids has left less time and energy to leave kids for a night off. This means, kids will be entering care with less understanding of how to trust unfamiliar adults taking care of them, making drop offs more scary.
Here are a few ways to build trust with 'Gen C' kids:
Helping kids ease back into a routine
Prior to the pandemic, it was easier to keep kids in a daily routine.
Parents needed to be at the office at a specific time, making for consistent wake up and bedtime schedules. These days, many kids no longer have a consistent schedule, making the transition into child care harder than ever.
When kids feel disrupted just being at school, it can make drop offs feel even more daunting. These simple steps can help make it easier to ease them back into the classroom:
With kids being out of school for so long, it’s easy to put pressure on curriculum to get them back on track for elementary school.
But it’s important to remember that kids have also had to sacrifice things like going to the park and having playdates with friends. Helping kids enjoy being at school will naturally make drop offs more exciting for them, and build confidence in parents.
You already know drop off is one of the most hectic times of the day.
Between teachers getting classrooms ready, kids crying as parents leave, and parents and teachers struggling to communicate all that needs to be said in a matter of minutes — things can get chaotic fast.
A streamlined system for drop off can make the entire day run smoother for everyone. The following video shows how we tackle this problem in MomentPath using our simple, parent-friendly Express Drive Up feature. Or, you can skip ahead to the following five-step process for easier mornings. 🙌🏽
Creating an environment where kids are excited to go to school is the first step in keeping the drop off experience stress-free. Taking steps to make sure students enjoy school early also paves the way for a better relationship with education long-term.
Here are some ways to get kids excited to go to school:
Getting children prepared for learning starts before drop off.
It is so important for parents to understand how their own morning routines can impact the rest of their child’s day. While there’s not always much you can do to help children prior to entering the classroom, you can empower parents with the tools to encourage a better start to the day.
Getting a toddler to get dressed is an event.
Watching three-year-olds struggle to put on gym shoes in the morning when you’re already running behind is somehow even more frustrating than being stuck in rush hour traffic. While we can’t force parents to get to class early to help kids settle in, there are things we can do to help ease the tension.
If possible, encourage parents to stay for a few minutes while their child settles into an activity.
Empower teachers with tools to streamline their own mornings.
Create an environment with happy teachers.
There’s no doubt we’ll be seeing some increased separation anxiety in both parents and kids during drop offs.
Luckily, there are steps you can take while creating your preschool drop off plans that will ease the anxiety for everyone.
Encourage quick, swift goodbyes when parents leave.
Encourage positivity with parents and kids.
Finally, the great news is there are things you can do in your child care center immediately post-drop off to encourage mornings that continue to get better over time.
Create morning routines so the children know what to expect.
Have mornings start the same way each day (snack is a great way to start!)
Ask teachers to send parents a photo 10 minutes after drop off.
Advise teachers to send parents weekly emails detailing how a child’s week went
Provide a better way for parents and teachers to communicate throughout the day
Decreasing the transition period a child goes through while getting used to a new preschool or child care center is going to be more important than ever post-pandemic.
Luckily, the right tools can help.
With the Express Drive Up feature in MomentPath, parents can let teachers know their child’s physical and emotional state when heading into the center, and even update their ETA with a simple tap.
Teachers and staff no longer need to guess who’s going to arrive on time, or who will need an extra cuddle at drop off. Now they have everything they need to stay close to parents and kids at one of the most hectic times of day.
When you’re ready for an easier drop off experience, MomentPath can help. Get your free demo today to see just how easy drop off can be!