Beginning school often imposes a strain both on the child and the parent. It is important that the parent stay close by for the first day and for as many days as necessary to help ease the transition from home to school. Some children find the adjustment much harder than others, and each child must be given the time and support s/he needs to make the break. It is important that the child feels secure with his / her first school experience. A gradual intake of children and shorter school hours are generally arranged during the first week of school to allow the teachers to establish a relationship with each child and to give the child a chance to adjust to the school environment.
1. PREPARATION FOR PRESCHOOL (Parents and Children)
BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS
Say encouraging things when the child asks about school, without overselling the experience or using it as a threat (“You can’t go to big boy school if you pee in your pants!”). Remember that each child is going to react in his or her own unique way to the new experience.
AFTER SCHOOL BEGINS
Be prepared for changes in your child’s behaviour. New behaviours are common, such as: needing more rest; restless or disturbed sleep; temper tantrums; or regressing to habits or behaviours characteristic of a younger child. It is very common for a child to take on new independence (new behaviour at home) after s/he feels comfortable at school.
HOW TO ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD
Remember to be loving and supportive on the first few days of school. It is normal for your child to: stand on the sidelines; hit or bite another child; refuse to give or take turns; cry or break down easily; or cling excessively to you when you try to leave. If you find the behaviour troubling, speak with the teacher. They are there to support you.
Try to appear calm and unconcerned, although you may not feel like this internally. Help your child feel secure and comfortable by returning for him/her on time. Avoid comparing or talking about your child to others, especially verbally within his/her hearing.