Every mum knows that the first few years of a child’s life whiz by in a flash. You blink and they’re walking. You blink again and it’s time to send your precious bambino off to school.
A lot happens in the first years of a child’s life. In a very small amount of time, they learn very big things: movement, communication, as well as social and emotional cues. To be able to achieve this, small children are naturally very adaptable. However, you have to remember that they have spent their entire lives attached to you. Suddenly having to be away from you for long periods of time is a huge deal.
Whether your child is starting kindergarten or will be spending several hours at a daycare centre or playgroup, it is important to prepare them well to ease the transition.
1. Talk About It
In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, talk to your child about it. Talk about school and how much fun it will be. Let your child know that there will be many friends to play with and lots of fun things to do.
2. Sync Their Routine
Gradually change your child’s wake-up time, mealtimes and naps to match the school’s timings. Try and have everything in sync before school begins. Small children are creatures of habit and thrive on routine. Too many changes at once could upset them and cause them to resent school.
3. Ease Them In
If the school/daycare allows it, go in with your child for a few days to help her get used to the environment. Having your comforting presence around will encourage your little one to explore her new environment more freely. However, make sure to keep telling her that she’ll have to go on her own at some point. This way, she will only be adjusting to your absence, not a new environment as well.
4. Keep Your Promises
As much as possible, be honest with your child about your return and who will be picking them up. Separation anxiety will be made worse by any loss of trust, sending you back to square one. Tell your child the truth about who will be picking them up – don’t say you will come to pick them up and then send a nanny instead. Collect them when you say you will – don’t say you’ll be back ‘just now’ when you know you’re picking them up at lunchtime. Be clear and truthful with your child for an easier transition.
5. Do Not Sneak Off
Tempting as it is, do not drop your child off and leave without saying goodbye or creep away when they are not looking. This will only damage trust and worsen separation anxiety. Say goodbye to your child and keep it short and upbeat. Drawn-out emotional goodbyes will not do your child any favours.
6. A Piece Of Home
If your child is still a little anxious about school, send them in with a small comfort item – a blankie or favorite stuffed toy.
The beginning of kindergarten can be tough on both mom and baby. You’ve nurtured this tiny little babe and now it’s time to let him dip his feet into the world without you. While there’s not much we can do for mama, short of offering a big hug and a pat on the back for a job well done, we can definitely try to make the transition easier for baby.