For a child used to the security of his home, going to school for the first time can be a traumatic experience. He will have to spend hours among strangers, away from the comforting presence of his parents. What can you, as a parent do, to make this experience less stressful for him? Well, you can help your child adjust to the new environment by preparing him for it at home. And here are some tips to help you do just that.
To begin with, how do you know that your child is ready for school at all? If she’s independent enough to take care of her own basic physical needs, she is ready to take that important step. And training the child to be independent is a process where you carefully demonstrate the steps and encourage your child to emulate you so that she can do things on her own.
Gradually increase time spent at school
Going to school means the child must stay away from home for about 3 hours at a stretch. He won’t be ready to do this in one day. So, you need to make sure that there is a gradual increase in the time he spends in school so that he does not feel insecure and cry.
If he does cry, then the separation must be slower to make sure that he begins to mingle with others and gets his needs met.
Friends make a difference!
Having friends in school will help a great deal in getting your child to settle down. Befriend the children in your neighbourhood who go to the same school. This will help build a sense of familiarity for the child in school.
Good food habits
Another worry for most parents who are sending their children to school for the first time is food. What do you give in their lunch or snack boxes? How do you make sure they eat it?
Make sure you follow a food chart that is balanced with plenty of fruits and vegetables to fulfill the child’s dietary needs.
Expose your child to all kinds of foods and tastes so that she will not be a picky eater.
Getting her to pack her own snack and lunch will help her to learn about a variety of foods.
Show your child how the food is actually made. Besides engaging him, this will create an interest in him to know more about food and how it tastes. Introduce the child to tasty and healthy snacks, and tell him their names.
Child-Sized Home Items
Get your child customised furniture. That will make her feel confident about moving around the house and about using objects that help her to complete tasks on her own. Here are some customised household items you can get for her:
- Chair and table
- Kitchen shelves and utensils – real ones but smaller in size – knives, spoons, pots and pans for mixing and so on. Tiffin boxes that can be easily opened and closed
- Bucket and mug for bathing; towel, shelves that she can reach to get her dresses
- Dresses that are simple to wear and remove and so on
Toilet training is an important part of preparing your child for school. You should show the child how to use the toilet without fear, to clean himself properly and to wash his hands with soap after use.
You must make sure that the school allows children to use the toilet when they need to.
Inculcating habits in your child like waking up early will make the whole experience of going to school much less of a strain for both her and you.
But waking up a child early requires the whole family’s effort.
Involving your child in a few productive activities around the house is a good way to make her active also.
An active and energetic day will make the child tired enough to go to bed early.
The family needs to start practising this routine at least a few months before the child starts school so that there is no tension every morning about getting ready and leaving on time.
Respond, Don’t React!
When the child needs attention, it is a good thing to respond rather than react.
The trust that children have in adults depends largely on the attachment cycle that is enabled during early childhood.
Each time the child needs something, ensure that he is able to communicate it effectively and that you or the adults around are ready to listen to him and do what he needs.
Armed with these tips, go ahead and get your child ready for her first day at school. Make it a pleasurable experience, rather than an anxiety-ridden one.