Do you remember your first day at school? Stepping into an unfamiliar zone with new faces eyeballing you and getting you to interact with them? A scary situation to be in, especially when it’s the very initial stages of transitioning into a school environment. Fast forward years later--- it’s now your child’s turn! Let’s find out how to navigate this situation best and to ease your child into the new learning environment.
Combating Fear with Familiarity
Getting your child ready for school comes with emotions, both for you and your child. Being in a sudden situation with teachers and other kids can incite anxiety and discomfort in your child. Let’s ease that feeling of uncertainty by prepping them months before they join a learning community. Talk about the upcoming school experience with your child; let them see some pictures to get a better understanding of how the learning environment would look like. Show them activities that take place in a classroom setting; let them experience using markers and crayons at home first to make the transition smoother when they discover these similar materials in school. You could even drive or walk by the school, showing your child the environment, the kids playing from afar, the ambiance and colours surrounding the place. This helps your child build trust toward the location and makes it easier when you finally step into the premises on the first day of school.
Mirroring School Activities at Home
Once your child is settled in their class the very first week, schedule a visit with their teacher and enquire about activities and routines that are part of the schedule. That way, whether it’s storytelling, culinary, or arts and crafts, you can incorporate those into your home schedule so that your child becomes familiar with the flow. You can also observe how your child interacts with other children, and take note of what kind of toys they gravitate towards. Find similar toys at home to show them that both school and home environments are conducive for learning.
You never know when your child is going to burst into a range of emotions, especially when they are transitioning into a new environment. It’s good to enforce rules but also to soften them once in a while. When your child has a meltdown, shift their focus to something they enjoy doing-- a particular activity or a bedtime story; let them exude some independence in making choices for themselves and shifting their energy into something positive. They might get cranky after a long day at school, and it’s good to be aware if it’s hunger or tiredness playing a part in their mood. It’s best to keep a routine so that your child is aware of what to expect when they reach home.
Children want to be nurtured. It’s the attention, affection and love that instills a feeling of care and comfort. that they depend on. Teach your child to use words to express their feelings. Be aware that your displays of affection outnumber punishments. Hugs and kisses always help reassure your child of your love; praises can also motivate your child to follow rules. They will feel more confident to navigate school and home life when they know that they’ve got the support of their parents, teachers and loved ones.