Attending a new school or going to school for the first time can be a daunting thing for most children. New surroundings to adapt to, new faces to familiarise themselves with and a new timetable to keep to – all these changes can cause much anxiety in young children. It’s no wonder we often see faces of toddlers and young children beet-red and tear-stained as they reluctantly bid goodbye to their parents on the first day of school.
However, goodbyes on the first day of school don’t always need to be a teary affair. And, both parents and children can overcome this seemingly daunting transitional period with some thoughtful planning and preparation.
Here are some useful handles by TOUCH Family Services’ family and parenting expert, Mr Chong Ee Jay, to help make this challenging transition period less stressful for you and your child.
Setting your roles and routines as parents
Having a fixed schedule helps children adapt better to changes. That’s why it is important for you and your spouse to create a daily routine and identify your individual daddy and mummy roles as your child adapt to this new phase (e.g. who will send the child to school, who will pick the child up etc).
It is also helpful for you to learn from someone else’s experience by talking with friends who have been through the same transitional period with their children. Hearing from someone else’s experience also helps you form realistic expectations.
Talk to your child
Prepare your child emotionally and mentally for this new transition by having early conversations with him/her. Share positively on what your child may learn or experience in school and take this opportunity to encourage your child to share how he/she feels about going to school. At this phase, you would be able to address some of your child’s fears, concerns or questions. This helps reassure your child, and takes away the anxiety and sense of uncertainly that he/she may be experiencing.
Participate in the school orientation
Most schools organise open house sessions or orientations for both parents and their children. Do make the effort to attend these orientations with your child to help him/her better warm up to the new environment and potential new classmates.
You can also use this opportunity to find out more about the school, its curriculum, support groups, and explore how you can partner the school to make going to school a pleasant experience for your child.
Prepare your child through routines
Getting your child used to going-to-school routines would better prepare him/her for the new school term. Put into practice early the following key routines:
Starting this familiarisation process early helps ease your child into the routine and prevents him/her from being too overwhelmed by the many things to do and remember on the first day of school.
Keep conversations going
Even after the school term has begun, your child would still be adapting to this new phase in life. Continue reassuring your child by having daily conversations with him/her and be enthusiastic about finding out more about his/her friends and discovering what he/she has learnt in class.
Of course, this transitional phase is a journey even for you, as parents, and worrying is normal! Get in touch with your child’s school and teachers regularly to have a better understanding of your child’s development and clarify any issues or concerns that you may have.