Tuesday 10 February 2015

Settling preschoolers in school

And so, the kids are into the second week of full day school. They seem to be taking it well except for some teary moments at different point of times. Jare was extremely clingy and wailed big time on his first day. The Motherly me started crying with him, I know it's silly. But we've been together 24/7 for the past 1.5 year. It's a gigantic leap for both of us! Today, he finally skips happily into class after days of cries. 

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First day of school!

Jazz on the other hand is taking it slightly better, except for a slight moment yesterday when she stopped in midst of a game with tears welled up. She said she missed me. Aww... I hope she blends in with her teachers and friends really soon. While last week was an excited week for her. It was her first excursion to Chinatown with her teachers and friends. Yes, her first in 5 years. I was as excited as she was. She bought some stuff within her $5 budget, came home and brought us through her shopping journey. 
We do need some handy tips to help our littlest settle well in preschool. What tactics do you use? While nothing substitutes the presence of Mummy, I seek other ways to curb their anxieties:
  1. Before this whole new routine began, we shared expectations. They are gonna shower, nap and have lessons proper in school. It's totally strange when someone they first met starts them on a shower routine. 
  2. Teachers and friends make up the bulk of their time and bond. We talk about them often, ask for names and throw a few names off to get them conversational. 
  3. Avoid questions with "Yes" "No" replies. If they tell us more, we can talk more about fun in school. Something like, what toys do they have in school and which was their favourite.
  4. Jare was more of a challenge. He decided he wasn't going back to school after the first day, so I said, "How about wearing your transformers tee to school? I'm sure you're friends will love it too." He agreed!
  5. Jare has a comfort blanket. I told his teachers to whip that out if crying gets bad. I received feedback that it comforted and made him smile. So yes, comfort things! 
  6. Get empathetic with them. It's new, it's strange and it's a whole new routine. I slip into their shoes and encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings openly. 
  7. Pick them as promised. If you said early, before nap or after lunch. Honour it! We need to build firmer confident and trust in new environment. 
  8. How about a little bribery for the initial days? I offered them candies for enjoying school.
  9. It's preschool, so let's emphasize, "School is play!" 
  10. If all else fail after a month or 2 from the first entry day, talk to the teachers. We know our child best and what works. 
It looks like they're starting to believe school is play and an extremely fun place to be in!

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Looking apprehensive on his first day

I had a little of separation anxiety when both Js went school full day. For the first few days, I picked them some hours earlier. I also plonked in lunch date with a friend, where I started getting all emotional seeing other children with their mama at that time of the day. That was the kind of privilege I used to have. I can't believe I've moved on.

I can't believe they have grown and attained this much of schooling independence from day 1 of infant care, with a long break and now back to school. Some days, I still think they are my babies. I pack and unpack their bags when they are all capable of doing most routines on their own. They remind me, more often than I remind them now. Where did time go?

Still, I'm glad to have spent a big fraction of their toddler years with them, staying home by them and being there for them almost all the time. I'm starting to vision some wings on them. It's also time now to focus on tidying the home from the chaotic homeschooling days. 

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