As society is starting to open back up slowly and schools may be allowed to reopen soon, I wanted to address some issues that might arise for the children and parents as we navigate this together.
This has been quite a stressful time for young people around the world. They have perhaps felt isolated and disconnected from their friends and teachers. Never before have we seen such an extended period of school closures, and not only that but the closure of all spaces for children and families to explore and socialise in.
Parents are tired of juggling online learning and working from home and it is affecting their well-being just as much as it is the children. Frankly we all need a break from Zoom, Google Classrooms or whatever platforms are being used and get back to (socially distanced and masked) face to face interactions for the mental well-being of everyone!
We have been stuck at home here in Bangkok for almost 6 months, in the life of an adult it feels like forever. Now image being 2 years old, that’s a quarter of their life so far! In terms of child development, the first 5 years are when we see the most changes and learning taking place. So to have lost the valuable social interactions for so long will be starting to affect our children in ways we are yet to discover and that’s why it is vital that we get back to some normality as soon as possible.
Now some of you might have been enrolled at school before the closures and others will be completely new to sending a child to school, but after such a long break I think both sets of parents should treat it as the first time their child is going to school. If your child was at school and happily settled previously, they might not automatically skip back in on the first day. They may have separation anxiety and worries just as they did at the start of their school life.
So here is some advice from me, an Early Years Specialist with 17 years’ experience, and current Principal of Kids’ Academy International Pre-School, to ease you through those tricky first days/weeks of school.
Remember each child is different, they develop and mature at their own pace so while some are ready for school very early on, it often takes others longer to adjust. Don’t compare your child to others and allow them go at their own pace, listen to the teacher’s advice as it comes from experience and they know exactly how to guide your little one on this adventure into school life! However, there are also things you can do at home to help ease the transition and make your child excited to start school.
Some Simple Tips Before Returning to School
- Before starting nursery or school it’s a good idea to talk to your child about it, how much fun they will have, the friends they will meet, and the experiences they’ll have so it creates a positive image in their mind.
- Try to get yourselves into a ‘school’ style routine in advance. If your child is a late sleeper (lucky you!) they will need to get used to waking earlier to be on time for class. If your child naps at certain times that will not be convenient for you once at school try to gradually shift the time. Having a set routine each day makes it easier for children feel secure.
- Parents know their child better than anyone, you know what your child will need to support them on this journey so share that with the school. Often letting teachers know in advance if your child is shy, outgoing, active, or what their favourite activity/toy is will help them to create a bond much quicker. Their favourite toy/blanket is always welcome so let them bring it if it will help them feel more secure.
- Teachers will often ask for pictures of the family to be sent in to use in class, this helps children to talk about their family at school and seeing a picture of them displayed in the classroom makes them feel more at home.
- Be positive and happy before school, especially on the first day! Children can easily pick up on anxious behaviour from parents and this will cause them to worry about what is happening.
The first day of school is a big deal for everyone, treat it as such, take photos of your child in the uniform, when they reach school, and when you pick them up. It all adds to the memories so make them feel special. At Kids’ Academy we are happy to help you take photos so you can all be in them, our teachers will even be in the photos too if you want!
It is often a very happy occasion until it comes time for you to leave. Your child will very likely cry, and this is perfectly natural. As a seasoned professional let me tell you it is always harder on the parents than the child! You will be worried about them all day, wondering what they are doing and if they are still upset. From experience, I can tell you that most children cry for a short while and then calm down and are able to engage in play and will enjoy themselves for the majority of the day. There will be tears here and there throughout the day but trust the staff in the class, they are well trained and know all the tricks to calm and soothe children. We work with young children because we love it, we will care for them like they are our own, we promise!
Tips to Ease Anxiety For You and Your Child
- When leaving your child for the first time, make sure you are positive and happy, tell them when you will be back and say goodbye (never just disappear when they are engaged in an activity). The longer you linger the harder it will be for both of you as it prolongs the anxiety of when you will leave them. Simply hug, reassure them you will be back, say goodbye, then leave with a smile and wave.
- If your child is clinging to you the teacher will ask if you want them to take your child, this can mean outreached arms and more tears, but it can be the best way for some children but not for others so the choice is always yours.
- You can stay near the school if you wish, but try to stay out of sight as each time your child sees you they will become upset again. Watch discreetly if you can. But bear in mind that what you think is a great hiding spot is actually very easy for you to be seen. If you want to do this, maybe ask the teacher for the best places to hide as they will know from experience.
- If you have left and want to know if your child is OK, call the office and someone can go to class to check for you. Or ask the teacher at drop off time, they will be able to give you a quick call during snack time to reassure you everything is fine.
Always remember that by choosing to send your child to pre-school you are giving them the best possible start to their education. It helps children prepare for Primary school while remaining fun, stimulating and engaging to develop the needs of the whole child. We see pre-school as an extension of home, giving children the love, care, and life skills they need through creative and imaginative activities from trained specialists.
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