Does parenting come with a manual? Wish it did!!!
Getting a four-year-old dressed up to go to school on the first day of kindergarten class is a mammoth task, however, well-read and prepared parents may be.
Kids begin preschool and crèche pretty early – from 2 years onwards. Yet how does staying in school a full day make it different and sometimes difficult? Until Kindergarten, kids stay away from home for a couple of hours, without any structured learning or routine, so much so, it never feels like a school but a few hours away at play. By the time the kid turns four, parents have already done extensive research on the syllabi, infrastructure, distance, management, and even schedules and timing of different schools and shortlisted the ones to visit in person for closer scrutiny.
Certainly, getting admission to the school of your choice is no child’s play. The waitlist, the fee structure, everything is very disquieting and worrying, to say the least. After finalizing admission and paying the fee, the next hurdle is orienting your child towards the reopening day of school and planning the details to make it as easy as possible.
A few suggestions for parents to mellow down their angst:
- Plan for the emotions: It is not only about coping with your child’s emotions but yours too. It is all right to tear up, feel choked and get restless as you see your little one walk into school. It may come as a surprise sometimes to see the kid coping better than the mom/parent. All in the game.
- Visit the school beforehand: Make a couple of trips to the school premises and its surrounding locale to create a sense of familiarity when the child steps in for day one of the classes. This will help ease the child’s anxiety and settle in with ease.
- Practice all the little skills: At the outset, get the child into a pattern of waking up early, a month in advance, so the body clock is realigned without last-minute tantrums.
- Teach your little one to learn how to handle a water bottle and lunch box. Provide easy-to-handle accessories, not sophisticated and complicated ones. Get them to use the washroom and practice hygiene routines like washing hands, using a tissue to sneeze into or cough, and above all, basic etiquette of greeting their teachers and fellow students.
- Teach them to recognize their name: It may seem a little too much but teaching them to recognize their names will help in identifying their belongings. Write their name in block letters and let them see it often. This will register in their mind and will be easy to recognize.
- Read a book about starting school: Hope by now reading to them will have become a habit. Now the previous month of going to school, picking up books related to going to school, staying away from home, separation, and associated angst will come in handy to initiate them into a school feel.
- Some reading recommendations:
- 1. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson
- The Invisible String, by Patrice Karst.
- Llama Llama Misses Mama, by Anna Dewdney.
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and Ruth Harper.
- Wherever You’ll Be. by Ariella Prince Guttman.
- Be informed/Be organized: With parents working and hectic schedules, there are possibilities of missing notices/circulars from school. Keep reminders for every activity around your child and school.
- Presence of mind: In the initial days, due to various reasons like inhibition, fear, lack of appetite, or just excitement, the child may not have had enough food and water. This could trigger irritation and they may become cranky. To soothe this moment, when you pick up your child from kindergarten, pack a healthy snack and a water bottle and have it in the car (or in your bag) to give to them right away.
Do not drop your child and sneak away when they are engaged in play, as it builds a sense of insecurity and fear of adults abandoning them. Even if it takes a while, let them know you will be back to pick them up and then leave.
On the contrary, do not hover around the school, stressing and interfering with the day’s proceedings. Trust that the child is in safe hands, and you will be contacted if any need arises.
Everything new is unsettling and takes time to adapt and acclimatize. This too is one such situation. All you may need is a little patience and trust in your style of parenting.
Today nursery schools stand tall in the care and attention to detail executed by them. Teachers and support staff are well trained and highly qualified not merely in teaching but also in handling emotions. They will enable a smooth transition for the toddlers, using the necessary tactics and tools.
This should offer some solace to anxious parents worrying over their dear little munchkins.