In the post when I talked about ‘Motherhood – A Mario Bros Game‘ (which was ages ago, I know), I was in search of a reliable and well-reputed school for E back in Dubai. Check out the article and find out mixed feelings I had about E being starting the school shortly. That time we did not have the slightest clue that we’ll be moving to New Zealand very soon even before E turns the age (3.7yo) to start schooling in the UAE.
Fast forward to NZ; Since she was 3 already at the time we migrated, she was entitled to take advantage of the free 20-hour weekly kindergarten programme. And I was super keen to get her enrolled in the kindy ASAP (I could imagine myself dancing, sleeping, doing absolutely nothing in my imagination already :p). Apart from my concerns and excitement, E was also looking forward to this new phase. which means all this did not come as a surprise to her. Want to know the secret behind it? Keep reading…
Nearly 80% of the toddlers face separation anxiety and all they do is ‘cry’ – lots and lots of tears which in turn saddens the parents as well. And you’d never believe; mothers are five times more likely to cry when dropping off their children at school for the first time, according to a survey. Although it all gets settled with time, the first few months are horrible in such situations.
But thankfully, this all did not happen with E. We followed a particular approach which ultimately guided us to success. Sharing those secrets below.
While every child is different and possesses his/her distinct traits, there are some ways in which you can make this new beginning smoother for them and for yourself as well.
1. Build Interest slowly but surely:
This is the first, foremost and crucial step towards a happy ‘start’. This phase of ‘generating appeal and charm’ actually starts months before the child is planned to commence school/ kindy. Discuss all the pros you can think of with your little human from time to time, not all at once or this might be too overwhelming. It’s exactly like you are slowly injecting poison to someone… lol :p.
After all, the things you say or do matters the most to your toddlers and they eventually believe them. Tell them, they are gonna get so many friends to play with. They can enjoy the slide, ride a swing there daily.
As for us, the school buses did the trick. E used to play by the giant glass window while we used to live in Dubai. The ‘yellow’ school buses that sped away in numbers on Sheikh Zayed Road at a particular time of the day attracted E and from there I took lead. I used to talk about all the positives I could think of with her. For instance, there are lots of children in there, these buses take them to school every day, they do lots of fun and activities at school etc. We used to talk about it every day whenever she notices the buses on road.
2. Freedom with Reasoning:
Let them be the in charge of their activities revolving around the cause. Give them the right to choose the dress they want to wear, you can be the style police some other time. Ask them to pick their favourite superhero bag/ Disney character lunch box when shopping. Small things like these will fascinate them more.
And if they are making the wrong choices then don’t just brush them off by saying No, you can’t do that – No, YOU shouldn’t do that mama and papa. Instead, try to bring them to a consensus by explaining what they are trying to do is probably not right. Like if they are picking a summer dress to wear in winters, justify that why it should not be worn on a cold day. E sometimes asks us to buy her recent favourite cartoon themed bag or bottle during mall visits to which we always respond ‘we’ll get this once the current one you are using needs to be replaced’.
3. Always say ‘goodbye’ but Don’t linger on:
Although it may seem a good idea to slip away quietly when your child is distracted somewhere else but in actual it isn’t. This will make him/her anxious and they will keep on looking for you the whole day wondering you might come any second. Also, the next day will be more terrible to deal with – so BEWARE. Bidding proper farewell is vital indeed.
Besides saying goodbye is essential, be sure to make it brief and quick. You can create your own ritual of saying so, probably a hug and kiss on the cheek, a bye-bye statement like ‘mommy will be back soon’ or anything that suits you. As soon as you are done with it, leave at once. No dilly-dallying mommies!
4. Help them kick-start:
There are days when the child acts a bit emotional and wants you to stay with them. In that scenario, you can make your child comfortable by diverting his/her attention to any of the activity. Walk with them to the swing and give them a push or sit with them at the play-doh table and encourage them to unleash their inner artist.
Sometimes E also becomes clingy, she holds my hand and asks me to wait around. In such situation I guide her to any activity she likes and then depart the usual way I do.
5. Discuss the day & Prep them up for the next:
When it’s time to pick them up, make sure to ask them about their day – how did it go? What did they do? Which friend came?. Pay attention to whatever they are telling or showing you, it could be an abstract piece of art or a recycle item generously glued with glitter or something total madness.. lol. Don’t forget to praise their ‘masterpiece’ and request them to make something for you the other day. This will make them look forward to the upcoming day more.
Usually, this whole new experience becomes a nightmare both for kids and the parents physically and emotionally if not tackled wisely. And I guess, it’s the hardest with the firstborn (isn’t it?). The process becomes less awful with off-springs that follow… haha. Experienced mothers are welcome to comment and correct me if I am being over-optimistic. lol
Hope this post helps the parents who are dreading this new phase. All the very best guys. Also, you are welcome to share your experience (good or bad) in the comments below if you are an adept parent who has been through all this so that others can get benefited too.