Starting school is a very big milestone for a child and parents. Most kids start preschool or playgroup when they are between 2 to 4 years old. Preschool offers many benefits, but it can be daunting for the little one to leave the safety and familiarity of home and join a new establishment full of strangers. Parents might also be anxious whether the child is ready for playschool or not. Here we discuss a few steps you can take to make it easier for yourself and your child to adjust to the new school.
Communicate to your child about school
Start talking about school much before the child is ready to go. Show other kids who go to school, show the school bus. Tell her what school is and that she will meet and make lots of new friends there. Tell her about new toys and swings that she will get there and so on. Make the place sound nice and inviting.
Do not create a negative image of school. E.g. we heard a mom scolding her naughty 2 year old son that if he didn’t stop acting up, she will also send her to the school away from her like neighbour’s child. Never ever tell a child that if she is being naughty, that she will be sent to school as a punishment. This will create a lasting impression and your child will not take to it in a positive way.
Choose a good preschool- make an informed decision
Choose a preschool by doing enough research. Look at the distance, teachers, facilities etc. to ensure it will suit you and your child. Read more on how to choose a good preschool for your child.
Phase out separation
Separation anxiety is common in children between the age of 1 and 3, so try to phase out separation. Most schools allow parents to be with the children for the first few days. Depending on how your child reacts, you can be with the child for the entire duration and encourage the child to enjoy in the new environment. After the child is a little comfortable in 2-3 days, gradually reduce the time you spend with the child. Leave the child for half an hour, then one hour and so on. Tell the school staff to inform you if at all your child starts crying. Go and pick her up immediately. This will instil confidence the child that you are there whenever she wants you.
Again, some kids adjust better than others, so if your child is happy at school try not to linger on too much and let the child enjoy.
Ease child’s anxieties and fears
Children at this age are still not adept at talking and expressing everything in words, so be very understanding and gentle. If the child is scared or does not want to go, try to talk to her but do not force.
Talk to the teacher
A teacher can help make the transition easier for the child. Sometimes it can be difficult for a child to adjust in new surroundings and an understanding and friendly teacher can make it easier. Check if the teacher can speak your mother tongue. Getting spoken to in a familiar language can be reassuring for the child.
Separation can be tough for parents too
Not just children but parents too may be anxious about this transition, especially the primary caregiver. It might be difficult to see your child go away and spend time with others when it used to be you. You may also miss the child during school hours. Find some engagement for yourself and look at it as a me-time which you can spend on things you like to do for yourself. Pursue some hobbies that you have been planning to for long time.