“I still remember how nervous I felt on my son’s first day of preschool,” says Music Together teacher Ellen Acuna. “I wondered if my spirited three-year-old would sit still, follow directions, or exercise impulse control if a classmate knocked down his blocks. I know he had worries of his own. Would he have to eat the snack the school gave him? Would he like his teacher? And, most frightening of all, would I come back to pick him up? If you are preparing to send your little one off to preschool or kindergarten this fall, I’m sure you understand!”
Transitions can be hard for young children (and grownups!). Not knowing what to expect can cause anxiety—often expressed with tears. That’s one reason routines and rituals are comforting. When you know what will happen next, moving on isn’t so scary.
Music is a great tool to help your child with transitions. Songs can be used to signal that a change is coming, easing transition-related anxiety between activities, like playtime to clean-up time, or settings, like home to school.
A special Music Together song, “They Come Back,” has helped many children through the transition from home to school with less anxiety. Download an mp3 and PDF of the music below.
“They Come Back” song download
(You may have to right-click on this link and click “save link as” to download the song.)
“They Come Back” music
The lyrics acknowledge some of the feelings your child may have (“sometimes you miss them and sometimes you’re sad, sometimes you kiss them and sometimes you get very mad”), as well as an affirmation that “whoever takes care of you comes back, because they do love you.”
In the weeks before school starts, sing “They Come Back” with your child as you talk about school together. Then make singing it a part of your routine whenever you’ll be separated. This way, the song will signal that a separation is coming, allow your child time to process their feelings, and remind them that someone they love will come back for them.