First time at school.

29 June 2011

For all schoolchildren fall marks a new beginning. Opening of schools is pretty important to all students yet it means a bit more to those going to school for the first time. The main question, however, is how to properly prepare a child at the age of 3 or 4 for its first time to school. Your first and foremost concern should be not to reflect your own anxiety and concerns to the child. You may fear of what the child will encounter at its new environment, you may even have guilt for parting from your child but these thoughts and feeling should not be expressed in any way to the child.

You should start preparing your young child as early as possible for this very important change in its life, and you should create as positive feelings and expectations as you can for its first attendance to school. Inform your child about the activities it will participate in, focus on the friends it will make, mention things it will be doing in school and talk about its teachers and how good they are. If you find it necessary, you can even arrange a visit to the school during the summer holidays or even a meeting with the teacher for a first acquaintance. It is also very helpful to let your child participate in choosing the school supplies it needs such as back-packs, pencils and notebooks, to make the whole experience more appealing and rewarding.

However, and despite the preparation, once you arrive at school and are about to part with your child, this could be a very devastating moment for both parent and child. Talk to your child honestly and openly, explaining the reasons you should go and let it know exactly where you would be at all times of the day and what you will be doing while it’s in school, whether that is work or your house with a younger child. If your child bursts into tears, discreetly, slowly but firmly start letting go, promising your child that you will pick it up at a certain time (for which you would have to be absolutely punctual).

Generally, since this whole process of adaptation could prove to be quite painful, both for children and the entire family as well, other changes, such as changing keys, potty-training or anything that could cause stress to the child should be avoided, scheduling them for a later time when the child is at ease. Finally, we must remember that misleading a child or telling it lies will have the opposite result. Once the child realizes that it has been deceived, it feels hurt, insecure and restive.