Search This Blog

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Preschool Jitters

Today marks the first day of preschool for my 4 year old son. I think the separation anxiety that I am about to go through today will more likely come from me. I can sense his excitement as he picked his new outfit for his first day in preschool. My kids don't go to daycare so they don't have a lot of social interaction with kids their age so I'm a little worried about how my son will act around other kids especially when he tends to get rough on his little brother. I was also worried about him following instructions when I think about how he disregard my instructions at times. Kids are resilient to change and can adapt to new environment quickly. When a change is about to occur, it helps kids to talk about it so there are no surprises. Talking to my son about school somewhat alleviated some of the tension on his first day in school. I told him the fun things he will do in school with his new friends.

He was hesitant to go inside the classroom as the other kids happily went about their routine. His teacher graciously let me stay for half an hour until he felt comfortable. When I was ready to leave, he clung to me and started to get teary eyed. Afraid that he will throw a fit, I offered to take him to the restroom so he won't feel embarrassed in case he starts crying. I reminded him of our conversation about school. I told him that he will need to stay in school while mommy does mommy things and he held up three fingers to reassure himself that I'll pick him up after three hours. The teacher's aid opened the door and gently nudged him towards the front of the room where the children had formed a circle. It was his first circle time. He didn't get a chance to look back as the aid purposely covered the view of the door so I can leave unnoticed. Standing just outside the door, I waved goodbye to the teacher to signal I was leaving. As I walked back to the car, I silently prayed for him to have a pleasant experience and hope that he will make friends easily. The teacher assured me that they will call me if he cries nonstop. I made sure that my phone's ringer was turned up all the way so as not to miss the phone call just in case. I kept checking on my phone during the first thirty minutes of having left the school. There was no phone call. When I picked him up, the teacher greeted the parents and grandparents at the door. I asked how his first day went and the teacher happily reported that he participated in their activities and did not cry when he noticed that I was gone. He got attached to the teacher's aid for a little while but was soon in the company of the other children. When I went inside the room, the children were again in a circle, where they remained until they were picked up. Relief swept over me when I saw him smile at me ~ an indication that he had a good day. As we walked to the car, he told me he wants to come back soon.

The first day of school can be unsettling to children and to some parents as well. Here are some tips to cure your child's first day jitters:
-Talk to your child about going to school. Tell them about the fun things they will do and learn and the new friends they will make.
-Help your child feel good about himself or herself by praising good behavior.
-Get your child ready for school by introducing activities such reading, counting, and encourage their creativity through art.
-Set up an appointment with the school to visit for a few minutes so your child will see the other children.
-Let your child meet the teacher before the first day of school so your child doesn't feel like he or she is being left with a stranger.
-Get your child excited about school by buying supplies. Let your child pick his or her school bag.
-On the first day of school, speak with the teacher. Let your child see you do this so he or she will feel that you trust the teacher.
-On your way to school, remind your child that you will just drop him or her off and you will pick him up after school. It's still best to give your child a hug or (a high five) and quickly leave. You will just make it harder for yourself and your child if you linger. Don't worry if your child cries because crying will stop after a few minutes.
-When you pick up your child from school, ask how his or her day went. This will tell them that you are very interested and excited to hear about their day.

Tips on choosing a preschool:
-If you have friends, relatives or co-workers with children, ask if they have any recommendations.
-Check preschools in your neighborhood. Set up an appointment to observe a class. This will give you the chance to meet the teachers and their assistants and see how they interact with children.
-Assess the facility. Is it clean? Is it secured? Is it easily accessible? Are the children happy? Are the teachers and aides friendly? Ask about their curriculum and their policy. Do they have an open door policy? Are parents encouraged to drop in anytime to observe their children? Rely on your instincts. If you don't feel good about the facility, keep looking.
-Is the price within your budget? Most communities have a partnership with a preschool and are more cost effective. You may also want to check the different programs that your school district offers (head start or state preschool, title 1 pre-kindergarten, and parent participation preschool where parents volunteer one day a week and attend monthly meetings. you may also want to check out parent co-op preschools in your area)

As parents, it is up to us to mold our children's perception of school. Because children are naturally curious, this is how they absorb and learn new things. Encourage intellectual and emotional growth by stimulating their curiosity ~ keep them interested in school. Participate in their school activities or simply help with their homework. Show appreciation in their development and be proud of their achievements no matter how small or big it is. Each child is unique and every child has his or her own way of learning. If you have more than one child (especially when they're close in age) be careful not to make any comparison. You wouldn't want to start sibling rivalry by praising one child more than the other. School is what we, parents make of it. So it is up to us to convey the message to our children that school is a fun and safe place to learn.

No comments: