Helping Your Child Adjust When It’s Their First Time Going to School

Jeanne A. Curley

Your child’s first time going to school marks their first big step towards independence. By this time, your child will start putting on their “big kid” shoes to explore more of the world outside of home. Even if school lasts for only a few hours each day, this chapter of your child’s life will significantly shape how they navigate and deal with the world’s complexities as they grow older.

During their early years, children learn skills that are crucial to their physical, social, and emotional development. This is also the time when they develop their communication skills, cognitive thinking, and social-emotional learning (SEL). Children at this stage need to learn how to stop relying on the assurance of a parent’s presence and develop new skills on their own.

Children get a head start on learning these important life skills. Parents highly value the need for early childhood education, as evidenced by the country’s 95 percent preschool participation rate for children aged 4-6. Typically, children start preschool programs as early as 2 years old for kindergarten and 18 months for child care centre programs.

Educators (from early childhood education Singapore) shared even with the quality early childhood education, your child may not be as ready to take on the world as you may believe. To give you an idea of how to prepare for the big day, here are some tips to help your child adjust smoothly when it’s time to start school.

Visit Their School Before the Big Day

Taking a peek at the school environment is a great way to acquaint your child with the concept of going to school. If the school has an open house or allows students and parents to visit before the first day, consider visiting the school to help familiarize your child with this new environment. Set aside time for you and your child to roam around the campus together. Showing them that school is not a strange and scary place will make your child less apprehensive when the big day comes.

Discuss the School Routine With Your Child

Children often experience overwhelming feelings along with separation anxiety, so it’s important to ease these strong emotions, which can manifest quite strongly when it’s time to go to school.  Give your child a rundown of what goes on in school, but make sure not to overload them with too much information. Consider introducing the idea that school is just like a fun game or task that needs to be completed at the end of the day—and especially if they want to achieve their dreams someday.

Be clear about your child’s school schedule, including how long they will stay in school, what activities they will do, and when they will be picked up once the school day ends. Let them know that teachers are there to help them when they are having trouble and that school is a place where they can make new friends.

In the leadup to the first day, encourage your child to open up about their feelings about attending their first class. Ask them what they feel scared about and what they are looking forward to. Having open communication with your child will prevent pent-up feelings of fear once school starts.

Go Shopping for School Items

Children love getting new toys, and you can help them get accustomed to school by applying this logic to school supplies. The next time you go shopping, let your child pick their own supplies decked with their favorite cartoon characters or eye-catching designs. Creating a “school kit” with your child will help stir the excitement about using their new pencils, crayons, notebooks, erasers, and other stuff for school.

Prepare Comforting Objects to Bring with Them

As a parent, you’re probably well aware that children tend to bring a “comfort toy” for something as mundane as a trip to the grocery. For your child’s first day of school, allow them to bring with them something small yet meaningful, such as their favorite book. This will remind them of home and instill the thought that you will be there to pick them up at the end of the day.

If your child is enrolling in a program that lasts long enough to include snack or lunch breaks, prepare a lunch box with their favorite food and drinks. You can also provide small handwritten notes and sketches to make them feel more at ease and dispel first-day worries.

Resist the Urge to Always Come to the Rescue

You may feel a bit anxious when your child looks back at you before entering the school grounds, but you need to let them know that you cannot be there for them all the time. Be sure to exude a calm and collected demeanor on the first day and give them a hug and some reassuring words to get them on their way. 

When your child starts to cry, don’t just come rushing in to pull them away! The school staff is usually well-trained to deal with situations like these, and they can probably help you convince your child to stay so they won’t have to miss their class due to first-day jitters.

Prepare Yourself and Your Child for the First Day of School

As with any aspect of raising children, helping your child adjust to school takes a lot of patience. Seeing your child hold on to you on their first day may tug at your heartstrings, but it’s important to not let them become overly reliant on your guidance and presence. With the right push, your child will begin to think of school—and eventually their life outside of home—as an adventure that they can easily navigate on their own.

Author: Sim K

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