Getting Off to a Good Start
As you prepare your children for their first day of school or daycare, Mini-Skool has some helpful tips to offer. There are ways to make a new school year easier for your whole family, whether your children are returning to the same school, or just starting school or daycare.
Good Feelings Are Contagious!
If you are genuinely enthusiastic about any upcoming change, your child will look forward to it as well. At home talk about the school and/or daycare, the classroom and the teacher. Always maintain a positive tone. Even a young baby who cannot yet understand the language will get the message that you are positive about their new school.
Use the teachers’ names so that your child will be familiar with them when he or she starts at Mini-Skool.
For children just starting daycare or school, it is a good idea to start spending time away in small amounts from your child to get them used to the process. Leave them with loved ones for short spurts of time so they get used to you leaving and coming back.
Teachers care and they know that every child – and every parent – adjusts differently and needs time to feel at home in a new situation. Therefore, dealing with separation will in essence be the curriculum for the first few days or even weeks that your child is in the program.
Children and parents react to change in different ways. It is important to recognize any change in your child’s life. Child care may represent an adjustment for everyone involved. Initially your child must adjust to three very important changes:
- Separation from you, their parents.
- Getting used to an unfamiliar place.
- Trusting and bonding with new caregivers.
As a caring parent you can help prepare for this transition. You and your child should schedule a visit to their new school or child care center before the first day. Encourage your child to meet the teacher and to explore his or her new classroom when the other children are around.
Leaving Your Child on Their First Day
On the first day, allow plenty of time for getting ready, out the door and to school or daycare. If you are feeling stressed it will be contagious. As you walk or ride together on the first day, talk or sing. Casually discuss what you will do together after you are reunited. Commuting can be a special time to share ideas, play games, or observe changes in your surroundings.
Please avoid sneaking out of the center! To do so may cause your child to have trouble trusting. When you first start, think of leaving as a three-step process:
- After removing your child’s coat, etc. and signing them in explain, “I’m going to leave for work now.” Be sure to tell your toddler or older child that you will be back. For example, “I’ll pick you up to go home soon after you have had your afternoon snack.” This makes reference to a routine part of their day that they can relate to.
- Always say goodbye with a kiss, a hug and a wave. Be firm but friendly about leaving. This is a very important step.
- Do not prolong the goodbye procedure. This will make it harder for
you and your child.
To ease the transition, always show affection when you say goodbye. Let your child know you accept his or her feelings by saying such things as “I know you don’t want me to leave and I will miss you, too.” Then be firm, but positive about leaving. When you pick up your child, treat returning home in the same clear, positive way.
If you feel any anxiety after you leave the child care center, call the center and speak with the Center Director and/or, if possible, with your child’s teacher. You will probably feel better if you touch base.
It Gets Easier…
Once you have gone through your goodbye routine a few times, your child will get to know what to expect and the goodbyes will be less difficult. After a few days, check with our child’s teacher; you will probably find that any dismay on your child’s part ends fairly soon after you leave. Your child will pick up on your confidence about having chosen a good place for him or her to be while you are away. As a rule of thumb, give your child at least one month to adjust to their new routine and classroom.