Like any first-time mum, I was very worried about my daughter’s first day of school. She started a little later than her agemates so I worried that the other kids would have already formed bonded and she’d have to struggle to make friends. I’m an introvert so I know how hard it can be to adjust to a new environment.
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Interestingly enough, she had been begging me to take her to school. She was over the moon when she finally put on her uniform and carried her new bag. As we walked to school on d-day, I asked her all sorts of questions just to make sure that she was okay. I knew that all the protection I’d been giving her till then wouldn’t be as effective anymore. My heart broke when we got to school and she said bye. She didn’t even cry!
That day was one of the longest in my life. But come evening, when I went to pick her up and she told me what an amazing day she had had, I relaxed somewhat and finally let go. She is a big girl now, I told myself, ready to take on the world.
Below are my tips on how to cope when your child first starts school.
1. Prepare your child (and yourself) beforehand
Do the school preparations together to build excitement. Go uniform and stationery shopping together. Show your child where the school is and do a school run trial. This will make the route familiar and reduce first-day jitters.
2. Meet the teachers and establish a relationship with them
Most of the time you will get to know someone’s character the first time you meet them. Are they kind-hearted, caring, understanding, approachable? Do they listen well? When you make these visits, go with your child and have them look around the school.
Remember: If the teachers are good and your child likes them, it will make adjusting easier. You will also have peace of mind knowing that your child is in good hands.
2. Say goodbye
Some children cry when their parents leave. Most teachers are well equipped with soothing techniques and can help your child relax. When it comes time to say goodbye, avoid sneaking out. Say goodbye and tell them you’ll be there to pick them up in the evening. Hug them, say ‘I love you’ and then leave. Keep a cheerful demeanour because if your child sees you anxious or crying, they too will become uncomfortable and refuse to let go.
3. Keep their photo nearby
That day, I kept the photo we took that morning on my desk and any time I got wistful, I would look at it and wish her the best. Instead of worrying about all the things that could go wrong, picture your child having a good time. Keep in mind that sometimes, when you have to face new scenarios, your mind conjures up worst-case scenarios but you can control this by focusing on the positive. Allow yourself to miss your child. That feeling only lasts a while and once you get used to the new routine, you will be more settled.
4. Learn more about your child’s routine
If possible, get a school timetable to have a rough idea of what they do all day. This will help you keep track of what your child will be doing as the hours pass by. After school, ask about their day, find out their classmates’ names and which ones your child likes more. These after-school conversations will help you decipher any problems your child might be facing in school and you can speak to the teacher and get them resolved.
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