Learning begins very soon from birth and continues life-long. I am not even talking about the formal schooling that one acquires. Why I say it begins so early is because since the time a baby comes in the world its quest of adjusting in the world begins. Somehow as it keeps growing its journey of observation and exploration begins. As soon as it learns to crawl their is no stopping them now. Finally as soon as our little darlings turn 2-3 we know that somehow it is better that they receive a proper outlet for their in-suppressible energy. However the transition from home to school is not a cake walk. As a parent it is our role to make this phase easy and enjoyable for our child.
Early school such as a kindergarten or Montessori can help a child in getting prepared for primary school. Certain ways in which a kindergarten can help the child is
- developing a routine
- help in losing shyness
- less dependency on parents
- learning to stay away from home
- learning to play and work in groups
- getting independent by learning certain skills such as wearing socks, shoes and washing hands and eating by self
- toilet training
- learning to work sitting at table
- accepting different kinds of people and adapting
- readiness for school-learning
However their are so many things we have to be ready for as parents and prepared to see changes in our child’s behavior which may be as follows:
- crying tantrums
- refusal to part from parents or ‘Separation Anxiety’
- refusal to go to school
- setting of a routine
Having said this each child responds differently to this phase in their life. Although it takes time for most children to fall into a set pattern , easy adaptability is ensured if routine has already been incorporated into their lives. I know a certain kid in my dd’s group who refused to stay in kindy as he would throw crying tantrums throughout the class schedule. The reason as his mother said was his late sleeping habits.
The importance of routine can never be undermined. It is of utmost importance that by the time our kid moves into early school they have at least their sleep schedules in place. Any child without receiving ample sleep can neither develop well, either mentally, emotionally or physically nor can they develop into productive individuals. Apart from that, routine makes a child and even us as adults feel a sense of comfort. It also helps the child into adapting to their environment. I f we are a parent who is struggling with sleep patterns of our child their are a few things we can try such as:
- ensuring the last meal was about 3 hours before their bed-time
- no television or loud sounds around the bed-time
- take them for walk or physical activity in the day as fresh air and a tired body are good triggers of sleep
- a clean and cool bedroom
- absence of lights at bed-time
- read out from a book
- however not over-stimulate the brain
- do daily prayers ; it will become a habit as well
- have a early wake-up time
- having a short mid noon nap is acceptable as most early schools encourage it, as long as it works for one’s child
Their are various things that we as parents must keep in mind and implement that can help our child’s transition in relation to the school itself;
- Tell the child and prepare them for what is coming. We can take the help of fictions. Often times schools provide it at the time of the orientation as it happened with my daughter’s kindy.
- Take the opportunity of attending any orientation that may take place in order to get familiar with the vicinity of the school so that the child can in turn can get familiar with the surroundings when they are finally on their own.
- Listen to the suggestions provided by the educators in relation to the school.
- Collaborate with the educators by sometimes asking for feedback on how your child is adapting and being open to dialogue by providing own feedback.
- Keep child’s immunization records and other health information updated so you are aware of allergies if any and may inform the staff to do the needful
- Providing them with necessary nutritional meals for school; ideally there should be something for lunch and a snack for tea-times
- Avoid giving too much sweet and sugary items which some studies show promote hyperactivity in children. Similarly junk food like chips serve no good purpose either.
- Also be aware of what food items are not allowed in that school; for instance some of them are nut free or dairy free zones
- Encourage your child to drink water often
- If it is allowed, you may spend a day in that school to help your child get further accommodated
- By trying to know other kids and parents of the school who your child may become friends with; organize play-dates with them maybe. This can greatly help a child in feeling a further sense of belonging.
As parents initial anxiety is unavoidable. The best thing we can do as parents is act calm. Also from my personal experience I know that our children replicate our reactions to certain things in life. Usually our composure does not go unnoticed by our kids, and they are as ease at things as we look. This is why even if we do not feel calm and composed we can pretend to do so. Making an effort to develop a rapport with the staff and trying to know the parents of some kids our children can be friends with can go a long way in their emotional adjustment as well. The early education of the child is one of the most important years of life of the child as it is the time when their mind is the most flexible. This is also the time of their Being, Becoming and Belonging into a new phase of life, for them and us as well!