As a parent, the first two years of your child’s life are an exhilarating adventure. It is a wonderful experience, however, many will agree that it is also very challenging, both mentally and physically demanding. Particularly when your child turns 2 years old and it suddenly feels like you have a restless blender at home without a lid on, constantly making a mess and lots of noise.
Don’t panic! Luckily for you, and thanks to a man called Friedrich Froebel, Kindergartens were created a few centuries ago. Yes, that place where your little blender without lid will meet their first friends and will take their first steps into the big world without mum and dad beside them. The place where the teachers, those mythological creatures who will somehow manage to keep sane while keeping your child and many others safe and happy, will win your child ́s heart and will take care of them with passion and commitment.
This sounds wonderful, you can finally share some responsibility with other adults who will advise you and take care of your child with you. Everything comes with a price, settling into school is not an easy journey, but it is worth it! I promise.
In order to understand what goes through the minds of little children on their first day of school, I encourage you to imagine the following scenario: You are taken to a very strange city with nothing more than a backpack, which contents you ignore. Everyone is way bigger than you and you can not understand their language properly, they also try to hug you sometimes, which you find too invasive and scary. There are some other little people like you, but they do not really talk yet and sometimes, they try to take whatever you hold in your hand from you. On top of this, you do not have a phone or access to the internet so you can not contact your family to rescue you.
Pretty scary isn’t it? Well, this explains why children usually cry for many days when joining school for the first time. We need to be aware of their feelings and understand that, as ́OK ́ as the situation may appear to an adult, it is not that ́OK ́ for a child who does not quite understand what is actually happening.
If you wonder how to make settling in period easier for you and your child? At RBIS, we adopt the following principles:
- Parents are allowed to accompany their children on the first days. Being present in the classroom will make the experience less stressful for the children. They will walk in happily and calmly and will make a positive relationship with the teachers.
- Parents are encouraged to leave some personal object with the child (a teddy bear from home, mum’s scarf, dad’s tie…). This will be helpful for the child once parents leave as it is a reminder that they will come back for it.
- Parents are encouraged to say goodbye before leaving. Sometimes this means some tears, however, children need to get used to say goodbye. When parents just disappear without notice, they feel more anxious and believe that their parents may not come back.
- Talk to your child about the new school before starting. Read books about Nursery and talk about all the wonderful and fun things they will be doing.
- Make sure your child sleeps enough hours (12 to 14 hours) and follow the same routine in the morning, leaving plenty of time to wake up, eat some breakfast and get ready.
- This experience may be upsetting for you too. It is important that your child does not notice that you are upset about leaving him or her. Smile, act normal and reassure them with confidence.
- Keep calm, it will all be OK.
At RBIS, playgroup sessions are held every week where young children and their parents have the opportunity to interact with the teachers while keeping busy with fun and stimulating activities. This is a great way to ease the transition into school because children and parents already know the school and the teachers before joining us. Most of the children who enjoyed our playgroup sessions last year are now joining the school, we are sure there will be a lot less tears and more smiley faces on the first days.
Hopefully, these tips will help you and your child survive the first month at school. Happy settling in period!
Editor’s Note: Lisy Ros is an Early Years Coordinator & Reception Teacher, Rasami British International School. She was recently featured on BKK Kids’ Bangkok Faces column. If you would like more information about RBIS and how to join Playgroup, please contact 02-644-5291-2 (ext 101).