But where is Jessica and Jason and my teacher?
It’s wonderful when a child is old enough to get out of the house at the big age of 3 or 4 and learn to play with others in a pre-pre-school or pre-school setting and the little one begins to understand the process of routine and time structured spots. It is equally nice for mom/dad/guardian to gain a 2-3 hr slot of freedom as well. However, once Summer rolls around that routine may get changed and new doubts and questions enter the child’s mind as is in the case of Casey’s Summer Camp transition.
Here’s the story of little Casey age 4 upon beginning her new “summer camp” weeks at the place where pre-school had just ended:
Casey: “Mommy – I can’t go in room, I don’t see Timmy and Jessica – no mommy I can’t go there.”
Mommy: “Casey, honey, this is the same place you go to every Monday and Wednesday.”
Casey: “But No Mommy, it can’t be they’re not there.”
Mommy: “Oh, I know they are not there but sometimes children do different things in the summer and so do teachers, you will make some new friends and meet a new teacher and you can tell Jessica and Timmy all about them.”
Casey: “I don’t know Mommy, I need Timmy and Jessica.”
Mommy: “Well, dear, can you try it for a few days to see what kind of arts and crafts, and games that the teacher has for you, and make some new friends?”
Casey: “I don’t know Mommy, they’re not they’re.”
The conversation between Mommy and Casey stayed about the same for the first 3 days of camp until Casey met up with Lenny and Kaia and then couldn’t stop talking about them to everyone she met. Her transition to camp was successful due to the patience and understanding of her Mommy.
Too often, well meaning and loving parents forget the time it takes to transition from one environment, age, or routine. In Casey’s situation she was met with repetition, reassurance, and respect as she pleaded her case of not having those cherished friends who were so important to her comfort. Naturally, all children are different and whereas Casey moved forward to her new camp environment, other children may not be ready.
Transitions are never easy for the young child and depending on the situation and of course the child, there are many ways to guide one forward. One resource to explore is The National Association for the Education of Young Children which highlights researched-based strategies for children aged birth to eight and may be helpful as you help your child grow.