Attending school for the first time is an important milestone for both parent and child. Expect a mix of emotions – fear, anxiety and stress – one minute, and excitement and curiosity the next. Here’s how to cope.
Your child is ready for school if he or she…
- Is able to follow simple one-step instructions, such as placing a water bottle inside a basket
- Is comfortable being with another caregiver without the parents
- Plays well alongside other children
- Shows an interest in learning
How do I prepare my child for school?
- Try role playing – be the teacher and your child a student. Discuss school rules – no running or hitting, pay attention, and raise one’s hand for permission to speak
- Buy a backpack and water bottle featuring your child’s favourite cartoon character – these create a positive impression of school
- Accompany your child on orientation day to introduce them to the teachers. Let your child know who will be accompanying him or her to and from school
- Share stories about the first day of school or read them storybooks that tackle the subject
What is separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a strong reluctance to be separated from one’s caregiver. When this happens…
- Stay calm and cheerful so as not to make your child feel even more anxious
- Don’t get frustrated if your child cries or has a meltdown. Threats and scoldings can worsen the situation
- Assure them that school is a safe place where they will enjoy themselves
If your child refuses to go to school the next day, acknowledge his or her emotions with a simple “Okay”. Children are more inclined to deal with difficult feelings when they know you understand.
Get through the morning routine quickly, and do not react to cries or tantrums. Instead, remind them that school has lots of fun activities. When our children are upset, our instinct is to make them feel better. But giving in is not advisable. By letting them cope with tough situations, kids learn to become resilient.
TIPS FOR A TEAR-FREE GOODBYE
- Give your child a kiss and hug before leaving
- Remind them that if they miss you, they can picture mummy and daddy in their mind
- Don’t prolong your departure, always stay calm and keep your anxieties to yourself