A child’s first day at school is one of the biggest of their life. It’s not just about dropping them then scampering off the second a teacher holds their hand. Every child has their own way of reacting to the first day being in the company of strangers.
Some will get excited, probably run off to join the other kids before you can say “bye”. Some will sit and sulk in a corner all day and not say word because they don’t like the unfamiliar, while others will let out a scream so loud, out of fear, when they see you leave that teachers will insist the child is not ready for school.
There will be days of tears or even the occasional ‘tummy ache’ but you must understand that it is not unusual for kids to need a little help when adjusting to such changes. “My daughter Tabitha was miserable when I dropped her off on the first day. It broke my heart because she didn’t want to part with me,” said working mother of two, Rita Tumwangye.
The first step to helping them adjust is to facilitate their bond with the teacher. Children need to shift their attachment to the teacher in order to feel comfortable. Not every child will automatically connect with a teacher – there will be resistance. It’s best to talk it through with the teacher and hope that he/she can make a special effort to bond with the child.
It’s imperative that bonding with other kids is aided as well. Ask the teacher who your child is closet to and maybe arrange a play date for them in order to bond better.
You could invite the parents of your little one’s new BFF (best friend forever) over for tea or just a walk in the park – who knows – you might get yourself a new friend too!
The biggest challenge when kids are starting school is saying goodbye to you. Like I said, some handle it well because they are excited about the change in environment and meeting other kids while others do not want any part of it and would rather go back with you.
Find a way for them to hold on to you for the day. Create some kind of assurance that will let them know you are coming back for them because it feels like abandonment sometimes. Put a family picture in their lunch box and try to be as early as possible when picking them up. Seeing most of their friends leave will aggravate any anxieties.
If your child gets teary when you say goodbye, reassure her that she’ll be fine and that you’ll be waiting at the end of the day. If she continues to have a hard time, see if the teacher can give her a special job every morning to ease the transition – distractions work like wonders.
If you have a younger kid, it wouldn’t hurt to tell your little ‘school goer’ how good they have it and that the sibling at home is bored out of their mind and wishes they could go to school too!
“My daughter is now in top class (pre-primary) and loves every bit of it. She wakes up when she is supposed to and if I take too long getting ready, she worries that we will miss the bus,” added Rita.