- Family and Parenting
First day at school and separation anxiety
Preparing the child for the school
Do you recall your first day at school ? I am just kidding.. Most of us don't even remember what happened two days back !We all have pleasant memories of school days etched on our minds but first day at school ? If we did, we'll know how it is to be worried about leaving our caretakers,worried about the new place, worried to be left with so many strangers.. Not a nice feeling at all !
My little one started talking when she was barely one year old. She used to talk to everybody was was quite friendly. She could stay at my parent's house for two days without me, and i was so confident that she would find the playschool very attractive. I couldn't have been more wrong. I put her in a playschool two years back and it was a big shock for us. She would cry everyday and it was very difficult for me to leave her at school and go to work. She wasn't learning anything at school as she would not mingle with other kids. She would cling to her teacher and stay with her till we go to pick her up. Everyone told me that kids take time to adjust, but at that time, i was not prepared. It took three to four months for her to start liking her playschool and to make friends.
Now she is four and I put her in a big school and this time, I am surely better prepared. She goes to school in her school van and has already made friends.She loves her school and as soon as she comes home, tells me everything that hapenned at school. Yes, there are couple of days when she doesn't feel like going but then, that's pretty normal with young children.
Preparing the child for the first day at school is a big task. If a child is used to a daycare, it may be a smooth transition. However, for the kids who stay with their parents or grand parents, it can be quite a challenge. Here are a few steps that can help you in preparing the child for the school and helping them cope up with the separation anxiety.
Talk to the child
The earlier you start preparing the child for the school, the better. It is very important that the parents don't pass on their worries to the children. Talk to the child about the wonderful things they will learn at school and the lovely activities that they would be doing. Tell them that they will be making new friends who would play and learn with them. Do everything you can to boost their self confidence.
Keep the child happy and never criticize them for being scared of the new place. Tell them that it is okay to be little nervous and that you would do everything you can to help them get over it. Let them know that they are now grown up, and it's okay to be away from parents for some time. Tell them that you'll be waiting for them when they come back in the afternoon, and you look forward to hearing the events from their school, and that you trust them to be able to take their own decisions. Pep talk can do wonders even for toddlers.
Preparing the child for school is essential not just for those who are going to attend school for the first time but even those who are going back to school after their vacation.
Let them check out their new school
Let the child know everything about the school they would be in. List down all the activities that the school offers and know about their teaching techniques. Take them to the school and show them around. Show them their playground, skating ring, tennis courts, splash pool, anything.. Your goal should be to keep them excited about their school. Let them familiarize themselves with the surroundings. If they are concerned about something, listen to them and address their worries. Meanwhile, also tell the child how to handle situations at school. Tell them it is not okay to bully someone and if someone is doing that to them, they need to tell their teachers. Just make sure that you tell everything via stories or as a game, never give a lecture to small kids. That just puts them off !
Tasks and Routine
Teach the child how to tie his shoe laces, how to put on the shirt button and other tasks. Teach them how to open their lunch box and how to drink from the bottle without spilling. Create a routine well before the school reopens and follow it strictly. If the school does not have a nap time, discourage it at home as well. Let them get used to the school timing. It becomes easy to adjust with the school routine that way.
First day at school
In spite of all the preparation you have done, minor separation anxiety and nervousness may still be seen on the first day at school. And it is not just for the kids, it is also tough for parents when your little one is moving from her secure world into a new one. In fact, some kids still cling on to you when you leave them. It is quite normal and would settle down in a couple of days, and the parents should not give in to any tantrum that the child may display.
Let your child know that you will be back as soon as the school is over. If needed, stay back for couple of minutes on the first day. If you know someone else whose child would be same class, you can introduce the kids and see them off together. That way, the children find comfort in each others company.
To deal with separation anxiety, it's a good practice to leave with the
child something that is close to their parents. For example,one of my
friends used to carry one particular scarf on her way to work everyday and her
kid knows that. When the kid started her preschool, my friend gave that
scarf to her. She was somehow quite comfortable at school with
that scarf around. Maybe she feels that mum is going to comeback for the
scarf, if not for her !
Children who are well-prepared and trained for the school would settle down within the first week itself, and you would soon find your kid happily waving you a goodbye.