As the hot summer draws to a close, it’s not only the cooler months of autumn you need to prepare for. It’s also that time of the year when you have to get the notebooks, pens and backpacks ready for school.
For very young kids, starting preschool can be an enormous step. Your child will be leaving babyhood and entering a new phase in life where he won’t be with you all the time but will be with others his age, make new friends and learn new skills.
Making the transition easier
School will be a totally new environment from the home and attending school for the first time can bring up a mix of emotions for your child – excitement, anxiety, apprehension and sadness for being away from you. But you can make the transition so much easier for the little one by doing these strategies.
Prepare, but don’t overdo it
Everyone feels anxiety when faced with something new and your child is no different. Let him know what to expect but do it the right way. Don’t over prepare and overwhelm him by talking about school even when it’s months away; or saying unrealistic things like “you’ll have the best fun” or “there’s nothing to be scared of.”
What you can do instead is give him information to calm his fears by talking about school in an upbeat tone. A couple of weeks before the start of the term, you can drive by the park and tell him that in preschool, he can play with swings and slides like those in the playground. Or, you can read him bedtime stories about starting school. This way, he can look forward to going to school
Engage in more social activities
In preschool, your child will be with others his age and he will need to get along with them. If he is not used to being around other children, sharing, waiting his turn and cooperating might be totally alien to him. Acquaint him with being part of a group by setting play dates in your home, a friend’s home, or in the park. You can also enroll him in a class where he will learn to interact with toddlers like him.
Practise listening skills
In school, your child won’t have his way like he does at home. Oftentimes, preschool teachers in Australia encourage their students to sit still and listen; and follow directions. Help him get used to this by going through a simple routine. Occasionally, ask him to close his eyes and listen to the sounds around him and make him describe them to you. Also, you can ask him to do things on his own, like going to bathroom and washing his hands, helping you set the dinner table or putting his shoes in the closet.
Establish schedules and routines
Experts agree that following routines helps children in making decisions and acting responsibly because it teaches them about order and time, as well as structure and rules. If your child is not used to following established schedules and routines at home, he will find it difficult to adjust to regular schedules at school.
You can start with a morning routine that involves helping your child make her bed, get dressed and eat breakfast. A bedtime routine can be observed as well, like bathing, reading a book or storytelling.
Deal with separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is not uncommon for preschoolers. This will be going on for the first few weeks after school starts. Some crying is normal but it’s important for you to stay positive and confident. To keep goodbyes cheerful, you can come up with a special goodbye ritual when you drop him off at school, like a high five and reciting a rhyme.
Don’t hurry him up when getting him ready for school especially during the first few days. The less stressful things are at home, the better he’ll be able to cope with the separation.