If kids are a reflection of their parents, then rest assured they experience each one of the emotions you did when you were left at the school on your very first day. But as a parent, you can help your kids deal with the separation anxiety and prepare them to take on their new phase of life with zeal. Read on to understand how you can equip yourself so that your children’s school becomes yet another place where they find the freedom to flourish without wondering if they are abandoned.
TEACH THEM TO BE SOCIAL
A great way to prepare your kids for school life ahead is to help them develop their social skills. Ensure that you take them for their play dates in the park, thus encouraging them to make new friends. This will build their self-belief and make them feel more confident when they are in a new environment like school. The first day of school is a very special event but can be equally worrying for both your kids andyou. Make sure you familiarize your child with the new surroundings by taking them to visit the school and meeting teachers some days ahead of the first day. This will help both of you get to know about the location, layout and looks of the school.
TRAIN THEM TO BE INDEPENDENT
As a parent, consider giving some responsibilities to your kids at home. Start with assigning them small tasks like watering the plants or taking care of pets; this will help them become responsible. Also, encourage them to do certain tasks independently, like maintaining basic hygiene, washing hands, unwrapping their food and throwing away the waste into dustbins. This will act as a runup to what is expected of them in the school, when you are not around them.
DEVELOP CRITICAL THINKING
Do you scramble to solve your little one’s problems the moment she faces it? You may be restricting her from indulging in a thought process that is critical to deal with her external environment. Experts believe that instead of presenting a solution to every problem your children encounter, it is important to develop their critical thinking skill by encouraging them to seek solutions by themselves. This can be done with the help of simple activities like solving puzzles, building blocks, etc. Most gen-next preschool educators encourage such critical thinking in children. The pride of finding a solution invariably excites the kids and encourages them to do so more often.
DUPLICATE SCHOOLTIME ROUTINES
Prepare your kids for all the school-related activities beforehand. This will help them adopt the school routine effortlessly and willingly. Begin with the bedtime routine by encouraging them to get to bed on time. Practise a similar routine for bathing, dressing up, having breakfast and other activities that they need to follow when they begin going to school. This will accustom your kids with schooltime routines, helping them ease into the change.
DEVELOP THEIR READING HABIT
Developing an interest in books in the early years will help your kids learn language skills, vocabulary and concepts about print recognition. Some expertsbelieve that kids who are introduced to books and stories when they are as little as nine months old have a better tendency to become avid readers in life. Establishing a reading routine and narrating age-appropriate stories to your kids will be beneificial to them. While the fun-time story-telling routine encourages their natural sense of curiosity, the reading habit that is simultaneously cultivated helps them adapt to the books and reading activities in school.
In the process of making them independent and preparing them to move out of the secure environment to the open space of a school, it is important to provide your kids with sound support. Continue to support and reassure them that you’re there to help them in the event of any problem at school. Talk to them about their day at school in general and give them the confidence to share everything, without them feeling like they are being judged.
It is natural for kids to experience separation anxiety when they start school, and bidding adieu can be one big challenge for parents. Be prepared for all the tears that your kids will shed. Plan out small separations or develop a parting routine by role playing a separation at home to help them get used to the habit of saying goodbye to you. Develop your own special goodbye gestures and leave the kids with something to look forward to when they get back. Sometimes, handing over a small token or comforters like a toy helps the child get over the initial separation. With time, your kids will fit into the routine and look forward to attending school and spending quality time with teachers and friends.
BEING THERE FOR THEM
“In the first few days of Nirosha’s school, I took charge of dropping her to and from school, only to make her understand that she was not alone,” says Priyanka, a mother of two-and-a-half year old Nirosha. “And to prevent her from feeling emotionally frustrated, I told her that I was always around in case she needed me for something. Gradually, she felt comfortable in the school environment and made friends.”
STORY-TIME FUN ACCORDING TO PREETI MUNJAL
We encourage parents to read out stories to children at home. Bedtime stories are always close to children’s hearts and helps build their imagination. We’ve seen a lot of kids sharing these stories at school. When they find the same stories in books, they get all the more excited to read it by themselves. Stories are also a great medium to impart key lessons to children. Hence, pick the right storybooks with positive modeling and stimulating views.