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It is always scary for parents when they think about sending their little ones off to school or daycare for the first time. The common questions I hear from parents who are about to enrol their kids is, “What do I need to do to prepare them?” There is no correct answer to this question. Parents must understand that all kids will adjust differently, and at their own pace. The parent’s job, is to make the transition as easy and as fun as possible.
Here are my recommendations to help with transition:
- Have your child get used to the idea of being away from you. For many kids and parents, school is the first time they have been separated from each other for a long period of time. The child may face separation anxiety. A solution to this would be enrolling their child into pre-school programs or social activities, where it involves the parent, child and teacher, however, the parent watches from a far. This gets them used to the idea of working with teachers, other kids, and adjusting to being away from their parents.
- Get your child used to the idea of being independent and having choices. Have them pick and put on their own clothes, clean up after play, and use the washroom on their own. Giving your child choice allows them to take ownership of their action, and allows them to become independent thinkers.
- Parents are encouraged to read with their kids no matter what age and to ask questions about the reading. Questioning your child, allows them to not only think about the reading, but will also introduce them to the concept of retelling. Even if your child cannot talk, is it still important to read with them and to interact as they can learn through auditory and visials.
- Take some time out of your day, and do some colouring and cutting with your child. Fine motor is essential, and there is nothing more frustrating for your little one, than going to school for the first time and being expected to write a letter or even colour when they can’t hold a pencil.
- Lastly, as a teacher my biggest advice is, learning moments shouldn’t end when your child has entered school. Parents are encouraged to be active in their child’s learning throughout. Success can only be achieved when, child, parent and teacher work together. What is taught at school must be taught at home. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” (Helen Keller)
Make all of the above tips as fun and exciting as possible. Every day and every moment, they are learning whether it is your intention or not. Everything from playing a game to baking a cake can be turned into a learning moment.