Most parents want their child to make a smooth, happy transition from home to her/his school experience. The things you do and say with your child the weeks before the program begins will help your child to anticipate with eagerness the first day of being in a group with other young children. Try these:
Talk about school as a place where he can meet new friends and play with new toys. Be casual, confident, and cheerful in your conversation about school.
Drive by the building several times so he/she will be familiar with the building and the door to enter.
Have your child shop with you for some new item of clothing just for school.
Arrange for your child to spend a half day with another family. Help him/her become comfortable with the idea of being away from you for short periods of time. Don’t back out or give in if he/she fusses or objects.
Help your child practice buttoning and zipping clothing and putting on and taking off his/her own jacket.
A few weeks before school begins, explain exactly what will happen. Something like this: “On the first day of school we will go to your class. We’ll meet your teacher, and I’ll help you get started with a game. While you play at school, I will be shopping, working, going to my class. (fill in the appropriate activity.) Then, I’ll be back to meet you after school and we’ll go home together.
If your preschooler experiences tension about school, avoid saying things like, “Don’t you want to go to school?” or “Don’t be silly; school is fun.”
Don’t deny your child’s feelings, fears, or uncertainties. Allow him to express his feelings. A good thing to say is, “I can tell you’re not sure about this. We are all afraid of new places sometimes.”
Remember not to talk about your child with other adults in her presence or within her hearing, as if she was not there. Be careful about talking to your adult friends or relatives about her immature behavior, or uncertainties in her presence. This only multiplies the child’s fears.
If you feel you or your child might experience sadness or anxiety when separated when school begins, keep in mind these ideas:
Many young children get great satisfaction from school even though they do not appear sociable and happy-go-lucky. If your child appears reluctant when dropped off or picked up, this is not usually a true judgement about his/her happy adjustment to school.
Say good-bye to your child once with a hug, or whatever, and do this at the door. Do not cling. Do not give excessive instructions (Be a good boy/girl! Are you going to cry today?) Be happy for your child at the great opportunity you are allowing him/her to have with his/her new friends and new experiences.
Be positive and matter-of-fact about school. Don’t bargain. “If you are good today and don’t make a scene, I’ll take you to McDonald’s.”
If you feel sad or anxious, try not to express this to your child.
…..Karin Klein, Administrator, Red Hill School, Red Hill, PA.
Parent Connection Archive
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Praise and Encouragement
Your Child’s Fears
Your Child and Play
Teaching Your Child Responsibility
Make a Book With Your Child
Getting Ready For School
Learning to Laugh
Learning to Eat Healthy Food
Stress and Children
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