Starting school is a huge event for both children and parents. We asked early childhood expert Liane Shaw of Shaws Preschool what parents can do to prepare their child – and themselves – for the first day of school.
#1 Pick a school you trust
You’re leaving your precious child in the care of teachers and educators; be sure you trust them with this important responsibility.
#2 Talk to your child about starting school
Prepare your child for their new experience. Talk to them and explain that they will be going to school. Talk about the fun and positive things that will happen there – for example, how they will play in the playground and the many activities they can look forward to. Make it a positive experience for them to look forward to!
#3 Take your child to visit the school
A visit to the new school before the first day of school school allows the child to become familiar with their new surroundings. If the school allows, let your child play in the playground.
#4 Talk to the principal and teachers about your child
Before school starts, be sure to communicate information about your child with the school and don’t forget to mention anything that is unique – for example, your child’s favourite activity and toy, words your child uses to go to the toilet or when they are hungry, as well as their likes and dislikes.
#5 Pack something familiar in your child’s bag
Items such as a favourite toy or a small snack will make the transition from home to school easier.
#6 Continual feedback
Not only should you get feedback from the school about how your child is doing in their first few days, you should give feedback to them as to how your child is at home. It’s a new experience, and there are many emotions involved, so do share how your child is coping with the teachers.
Preparing yourself for the start of school
It’s normal for children to experience separation anxiety during the first few weeks, so be prepared for tears. But also consider these tips about your own reaction to the change:
- Prepare yourself for separation anxiety.
- Stay positive so your child doesn’t pick up on your anxiety.
- Reassure your child that you will return to pick them up at the end of the day.
- Don’t linger or play peek-a-boo trying to check on your child; this will only make it more difficult for them.
- Trust the teachers – they have years of experience settling children into their new environment.
- If you’re feeling unsure at drop-off time, wait outside the school for a little while until you’re comfortable leaving.
- If your child is taking the separation hard, then you may wish to start with shorter hours (not a reduced number of times per week, but shorter hours at school).
Shaws Preschool has six locations at Mountbatten Road, Braddell Heights, Tanjong Katong, Carmichael Road, Boscombe Road and Lorong Chuan. shaws.com.sg
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This article first appeared in the February 2018 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!