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Helping Children Settle

Helping Children Settle

Facilitate the bonding with the new environment (the pre-school) :

It’s advisable for children to get an idea of the school environment before they start, especially when the school is new for them. Many schools hold open days for children to visit the pre-school, see the classroom and playground as well as meeting the teachers. If this is not possible, information is readily available online that you can review and discuss with your child.

Facilitate the bonding with the teacher :

The teacher will be the person to provides a safety net for your child at school. If the child has the opportunity to meet them in advance this will provide a familiar face which may help reduce the initial anxiety. The teacher will be also responsible for identifying worries or anxiety in the school environment, so it is also good for parents to form a relationship and maintain close contact. Bear in mind that the teacher can also inform you if your child is not making appropriate progress in their social functioning or if they noticed any difficult situation with your child (e.g., peer bullying)

Maintain the bond with home during the first days :

Little reminders of home such as photos of the family, pets and toys as well as little post-it notes of pictures or motivational wishes can all act as a reminder of home and ease anxiety. Tell your child you will be thinking of them and give reassurance that their teacher will contact you if something is not right.

Establish a good routine :

Establishing a routine before your child starts school such as waking up, dressing independently and having meals and snacks on “school time” as well as trying on the school uniform will all help first day nerves. Buying the new stationary/uniform can also provide a practical way for children to engage in the new start. Make shopping a special and exciting experience for them.

Create a calm household routine with early bedtimes and stress-free mornings. Children who aren’t well rested or don’t have enough sleep won’t have the internal resources to cope with stressors and anxiety and they are more likely to struggle during the school day than children who have rested and slept. Early bedtimes are essential so children can deal calmly with the morning rush and with the rest of the day.

Greeting and saying goodbye :

During the settling-in period, say goodbye in a calm and brief manner, and tell your child when you’ll be back. Staff should confidently greet and say goodbye to babies and children too. Your child might like to keep a favourite toy or cuddly with them to begin with as a transitional object .

Calm their worries and fears :

Don’t dismiss any worries or concerns that your child expresses – allow them to ask lots of questions and answer them openly. There are many causes for worry of children starting to school for the first time. Most of the anxiety around school is usually caused by worries that adults might find silly, such as the fear that something bad can happy to their family while the child is at school. Reassure your child that you’ll be absolutely fine.

Help your child express their anxieties

Allow your child to vent their worries and anxieties. Give them as many opportunities as possible to express their emotions and concerns. Encourage laughter and giggling, it is a very healthy way of releasing anxiety.

Be alert for other signs on your child

In most cases, children adapt to school very well after the initial couple of weeks as routines are established and friendships are formed. But occasionally, if they have not adapted, their unhappiness might indicate a more serious issue, like being victim of peer bullying, or some academic difficulties. Ask calm questions about the everyday life at school both during the class and on the playground, listen carefully, and reflect on what your child is trying to say. If you sense something is happening or not going the right way contact the teacher to address your concerns.

 

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