The new year at school has begun. Many children have been coming to preschool, but for many others it’s their first time. Some children come to school with full excitement and energy, while in others there is a lot of anxiety. This is because preschool, for children is the first event when they are separated from their parents for a long period of time.
The transition from home to school is rather difficult for many toddlers since they are not accustomed to spending time away from their parents. When children face unfamiliar situations, most react with reluctance and shyness. Different children however react in different ways to the same situation. Some children settle very easily on the first or second day but become upset and tearful later.
During these initial days, it is normal for children to experience anxiety. There is a lot that can be done to make this transition as stress free as possible for child, parents and teachers.
Suggest the parents to prepare their child for school. Talk to the child, tell them where they will be going, what they will be doing.
For the first few weeks the parent can attend the session with the child. This will give time for the child to familiarize himself / herself to the new environment. Having the parent around will allow the child to confidently explore the new surroundings without experiencing anxiety. Once the child is familiar with the new environment, he / she will find it easier to settle in the parent’s absence. The sessions for the first week can be for half an hour, gradually increasing the time.
For the next few weeks, the parents can drop the child to school, but wait outside at place where the child can see them. This will reassure the child that their parents are waiting for them while they are engaged at school. Slowly and gradually the parents can wait away from the classroom, reassuring the child that they will come back to pick them up.
The parent’s involvement not only helps the child deal with his/her anxiety, it also give parents an opportunity to be part of school, be involved and interact with the teachers.
TIPS FOR PARENTS
- Follow a routine. Arrive a few minutes early.
- It is important that the parent is in a positive frame of mind. Children need to feel
that parents are happy about them going to school.
- Set boundaries and rules.
- When the child is crying, comfort and encourage him/her.
- Tell the child what they will do.
- Praise the child for their efforts at doing any simple task in school.
- Say Goodbye – While dropping the child, tell them that they are going only to be back in some time to pick them up. This will build in them a sense of trust.
- Arrive on time to receive the child.
Starting preschool is a significant event for every family. It can be both exciting and at the same time emotional and stressful for the child. Let the start to child’s journey in preschool be a comfortable and a joyful one.