KNOW WHEN IT'S TIME TO GO
A main part of the "curriculum" for children starting school is learning to feel secure in the classroom even though they're away from Mom, Dad, or babysitter. You can help by trying to keep your own anxiety in check, as a child's fear is often fueled by his parents'. If you seem worried, he may decide school isn't a safe or nice place to be.
Usually, it's best to leave the classroom when the teacher suggests it. After Thanksgiving break during my son Willie's first year of preschool, I found how hard it can be to do this. He sobbed so loudly when I started to go that I insisted on staying until he calmed down. Finally, his teacher put me out of my misery by gently guiding me toward the door, promising that Willie would stop crying sooner if I left. Skeptical, I stood outside the classroom with my ear cocked. Sure enough, the waterworks stopped in 10 seconds -- once the teacher suggested he help her make play dough.
"It's so hard to walk away when your child is screaming," says Olivi. "But put your trust in the teacher. This is a time for your child to bond with her and to realize that she's another person in his life who will keep him safe."