Settling in a new preschool
Indian summer is just about to get over, while some of us are excited looking at the overcast skies and waiting for the monsoon to set in, there is also a special group of individuals who are stressed. I’m talking about parents, whether their children are a year old or fifteen, they are stressed as schools are about to reopen, and with it their schedules are about to change, either yet again or for the first time. Congratulations if this is the first time your child is about to start schooling. Keeping this in mind, I thought of sharing a few tips before your child starts attending her preschool.
Separation anxiety – So far your infant has been spending time with you only, the parents, either at home or outdoors and they are bound to get jittery if they were suddenly left alone in their new preschools or day care centres. But more than the child, I have noticed that usually moms are more anxious to leave their child with their new care givers, the teachers, and have a million suggestions for teachers on how to attend to their child. The child always senses the mother’s emotions, so ease yourself if you have chosen the right preschool; as the teachers and support staff will attend to your child’s needs in the most optimum way. If you are anxious it will take even more time for your child to settle. Be happy, show excitement and confidence when you talk to your child about the new school, tell them it will be a fun place where they will make many friends. Start talking positively about the new preschool at least a few days in advance. When you drop them to school for the first time, let them know you are around (but out of sight) till they start trusting and develop confidence in the new place.
Set a routine – It is crucial that your kid doesn’t feel tired when she starts the preschool. A good way to ensure that they are welcoming the change in their schedule is by matching their home schedule (wake up time, meal time) to their schedules in the pre-school / day care centres. Start a week or fortnight early, so that they can slowly be accustomed to the timeline followed at the preschool. If you know their batch timings you can follow the same timeline to position their nap time, meal time, etc. This will also ensure that they are not cranky when school starts and are fresh and more receptive to their surroundings to learn new things.
Build Independence– As parents we want to give our children utmost comfort and make their lives as easy as possible, however, we also need to give them enough encouragement early on, to explore and learn to do few things on their own. For example, it is a good practice to let your little ones eat on their own. While it may lead to a messy table or soiled clothes, but it will eventually boost their confidence to do tasks on their own. Schools do the best they can to inculcate independence, however the same needs to be replicated at home for them to learn faster and hold it as a lifetime lesson. Take cues from their teachers as well inform them if the child uses certain phrases for things at home; this will be helpful especially when the child is being potty trained. Encourage your child to take up small tasks by themselves, build their confidence all along and it will help them develop into an independent individual later on.
Immunity and Sanitation – With monsoons, there is always a scare of infections and illnesses; however that should not be a deterrent to send your kids to school. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that kids need to go out and roll in mud but a little exposure to the garden/park outside won’t harm them. Inculcate these practices by helping them plant something in the garden or collect intriguing things from the garden to research and read about them later. This not only helps with stronger immunity and mental health but also explains to them how nature and the outside world operate. Additionally, if they do fall prey to the seasonal flus, etc. do not panic. Let them rest and have nutritious food and plenty fluids to recover. You can keep them off from school for a few days so that the same is not spread to others and vice versa; but keeping them away from schools completely is a stretch. In fact research strongly proves that children need a healthy amount of exposure to dirt and mud to build stronger immune systems.
Right age to start a preschool – If you are comfortable to take your child to a public place then joining a clean, hygienic preschool shouldn’t worry you. There is no right age to start preschool, as it’s a place for children to play and learn. The Early Explorers accompanied programs at Safari Kid, where mothers can accompany toddlers as young as six months of age to the preschool. These programs help children bond with their mothers, apart from learning and interacting with other children, it’s a great way to introduce to and build confidence in, a new place. Children enrolled in mother toddler program generally settle easily into the unaccompanied program.
Both my children are past the preschool age (my son moves to grade 1 this year), but I still feel nervous about the first day of school and yes a little sad that they have to wake up early. Hope these tips help you, and feel free to comment, or share more tips/advice or personal experiences that you’d like to share. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org