Transitions are little difficult for everyone especially children. While some see them as an opportunity, some get scared by the uncertainty and chaos that comes with them.
The first major transition that comes in the life of a 2 year old is going to a preschool. Though sending your child to a preschool is not compulsory but is highly recommended. Preschools are a child’s first experience with the outside world. They expose the child to a world of learning, fun and socialization. It stimulates their creativity, makes them physically stronger and teaches them cooperation.
Some schools like Sesame Street Preschool offer programmes for kids as young as 12 months old. It focuses on developing the child’s motor skills, language and social skills. The idea is to mould them while they are young and make them into responsible, disciplined and creative adults.
Sending your child to preschool, can be an exciting and nerve wrecking experience for the child as well as the parent. It’s the first time they will be apart from each other for so long.
Here are a few guidelines for the parents, which will help them prepare their children for this huge transition in their lives-
- Prepare a routine– Routine brings responsibility and structure in a person’s life. Especially for children, it removes their fear of uncertainty and gives them the feeling of being in control. It also ensures that the child is active and healthy which makes them more open to learning. These factors ensure a smooth transition of the child from the comfort of their homes to the structured and social environment of a preschool.
- Fix their bed times– Waking up early morning, at a fixed time will help your child develop a routine and this will give them a sense of reassurance. It will also give more time to the parent to talk and connect with the child before they start rushing through their daily chores. Teach the child to brush their teeth, make their bed and have breakfast. It will help them get organized which is the pre-requisite of going to preschool. Bedtimes consist of sleeping alone in a dimly lit room, which can be quite scary for a child. The parent should comfort a child with a hug or a kiss, tell them a story andtuck them in. This will calm their restlessness, remove their fears and also give them a feeling of being loved.
- Don’t panic- Sending the child to the preschool can bring a sense of some panic in some parents. The result they start preparing and months in advance. While all this preparation can help the parents feel in control it can overwhelm the little child. Parents should introduce “preschool” just two weeks before their first class, that too in a casual and exciting manner. Give them an idea of the fun activities that they will be doing there which will give them something to look forward to.
- Teach them without teaching– With just little bit of efforts, a lot can be taught to the kids and that too in a fun manner. Talk to children and encourage them to observe the world around them. Tell them about the changing seasons, stars, leaves falling. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and why is it important to be kind and helpful to people around. Not only will it fuel their imagination but will also help them develop the art of listening.
- Motor skills are equally important-While a lot of attention is paid to the intellectual and development of a child, motor skills are sometimes neglected. Motor skills are essential for a preschool going kid. A child with better motor skills will be good at colouring, cutting moulding clay and will eventually develop better handwriting. Encourage the child to use kid friendly scissors and play dough at home which will fine tune their motor skills.
- Make them independent- Children who are independent are more likely to adjust better in a preschool. Teach children to clear their tables, clean up the mess they create and help you with other daily chores. This will teach them to be independent and helpful. Don’t forget to appreciate and motivate the child while anytime he helps or finishes a chore.
- Encourage them to read-Reading is an essential skill for every school going kid. It gives a much needed boost to the child’s vocabulary. It ensures the child grows into an imaginative and innovative adult. Take the kid once a week to a bookstore and let them buy a book of their choice. Reading will also help the child have a longer attention span, grasping power and a better memory.
- Play peek-a-book– Play peek-a-boo with your child. Vanish for a few minutes and then re appear, saying “mommy is back”. It will reassure the child that whenever mommy goes, she will come back. Do this every time you are going to be away from your kid. It will reduce the separation anxiety that a child may go through when he goes to school.
- Introduce “preschool”– Before the actual session starts, take your child to the preschool once or twice. Let him get accustomed to the environment, teachers and the surroundings. If not during school hours, you can take them in the evening or weekends. Explain to them how much fun it is in the school and how they will be getting a chance to make friends, play and listen to stories.
- Recognize separation anxiety- Going to a preschool and being alone can make the kid anxious for the first few weeks. It’s the parent’s job to be positive and strong during this time and reassure the child when they are feeling nervous or crying. Tell them you will be back to pick them up in the afternoon. Keep the byes short as the longer the goodbye the more difficult it is going to be for the child to leave. Just remember it happens with every child and parent and as the time progresses, goodbyes are going to be smoother.
For a smooth and bump free journey of a child from home to a preschool, the parents and the teachers have to work in unison. The teachers have to ensure the child feels safe and have fun while leaning. It will keep them motivated and would enjoy going to school. Following the above mentioned tips will ensure your child is prepared emotionally to start his preschool. Remember it is not going to be completely tear-free, especially if you are a stay at home mom. It is natural for them to feel scared among unfamiliar faces.