Back to School- Adjustment Models

It’s back to school time!  For early childhood teachers, this inevitably means inconsolable crying for some or most of their students as they experience separation anxiety being away from their parents.  It’s a very difficult time for young children and parents, and just as painful for the teacher.  

Last year I was made aware of the “Berlin adjustment model”- a conscious plan for easing children into the school environment.  The main goal of  the Berlin adjustment model is to develop a trusting relationship betwixt the child and their new teacher, and to create familiarity whit the school environment.  

The Berlin model starts with a three day initiation phase wherein the children visit school for an hour each day with the parents.  Day four brings the first attempt at separation from their parents, (attempt being the operative word).  Meanwhile, the teacher is intensifying their relationship and attachment to the student so as to become a source of comfort for the child.  

My school has a similar adjustment concept with an identical goal:  to develop  trusting relationships between teacher and child and to ease  the child into independence at school.  Our model at a glance is:

  1. A video message is emailed to families from the teachers introducing themselves and looking forward with anticipation for what delights the coming school year promises.  
  2. Home visits are conducted where the teacher visits a child’s home for a short time, gifting a simple book with pictures of the school and teachers.
  3. Parents visit the school with their child in small groups to see the classroom and meet other families.  
  4. Children come for a longer period of time to school, but parents stay outside on the play yard;  children come in the classroom as they are comfortable.
  5. Children stay for two half-days without their parents.  Parents can be called if the child is inconsolable. 

Ideally, at the end of this easing-in process, the children are ready to separate from their parents and succeed at school independently.  

How does your school ease children into the school environment?  Leave a comment.

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