My daughter’s school just reopened. At seven and entering grade 3, She was all excited to see her new class, meet her new teachers, and most of all meet all her friends after a long break. Happily, she boarded the bus when it halted at its stop. But the picture was not so happy for all the parents present at the stop. Some other parents with younger kids, going to formal school for the first time, were battling a tough time. There were huge parting issues at the entrance of the bus. The little ones were howling, clinging to their mums, some fiercely hanging to their mothers by whatever they could grab – purse, clothes or hair. No amount of explanation or consolation seemed to work. I saw a mother gently pushing the child inside the bus, and then running out of sight with tears welling up in her eyes. It immediately send me back to flashback. I had been in the same situation myself when my daughter had started school. First day of school!! Why is it so difficult for some of us?
To begin with, all kids are different. While some kids are adventurous and therefore more open to changes, there are some who are more anxious by nature. For such kids any transition is a big difficult step. And remember starting school is not a small transition. It is hours of separation, probably for the first time ever in their life, from the people that they love and trust the most . So, separation anxiety is only justified.
Learning from my experience, here are some tips for parents:
- Children tend to do better when they know what is in store for them in coming days. So give them a little introduction about school, maybe through stories.
- Give a realistic idea of school. Don’t go overboard and paint a picture of school as one fun, party place. Kids might go to school excited first couple of days but will be totally put off once their expectations are not met. That’s one mistake I made.
- Repeatedly induce self confidence in them by saying that you are sure they will manage themselves in school. Plus, tell them that there are teachers to take good care of them.
- It helps children if there are some familiar faces like building friends around on the first day. So hope that some of his old friends are going to the same school.
- Keep goodbyes short and sweet. The longer they are, higher will be the level of panic in the child.
- At the onset of a melt down, tell the child firmly but politely that “Like we talked earlier, I have to stay back and you have to go to school. And believe me it is going to be a very nice place to be.”
- However hard it sounds, but if the child continues to cry despite all your efforts, you have to leave the child and go. Leaving your own child in tears is probably the hardest thing to do for a parent, but you got to be tough.
Do you have some tips to share with us?