Tips on how to prepare your preschool child for a school start
Proximity and familiarity
- A child usually starts school at 2.5 years. It is wise to select a school that is close to your house. The child needs an orientation of the distance for her own feeling of security.
- Admission process anxieties once settled, the
child needs to know more about the school,
- the distance from home
- the routine,
- what to expect there,
- geography of the new place
- Toilet and snack arrangements
- Name and familiarity with the adults there
- A preparation process for start up of such a routine
- The child could be taken to the school before admission to familiarise and understand how she feels about the place. Non verbal cues matter. If the child is not comfortable, more visits may be needed.
- Getting to meet and introduce the teacher before hand is important. The teacher could be requested to meet your child individually and give her in a few sentences what to expect when the school begins. This will set the child to believe that the teacher in charge will provide the love, security and care that she needs, while away from home
- Getting the child to meet the assistant or the helper would be useful to know how and when the child can take their help.
- The child would remember the names of all the adults once mentioned, hence it would be good to know their names and let the child recollect them before the first day of school.
- The child should preferably walk to the school. With one of the parents, and get home by walking too. That is an age when their leg muscles are forming and the sensitivity to refine movement happens. Hence negotiating turns and traffic besides roadside small plants and animals would interest the child to go to school everyday.
- Independence marks the arrival for a child to be able to go to the school. Facilitating independence for the child in order to fulfil her physical needs, requires patience and demonstrations.
- Eating, dressing, sleeping and toilet habits need to be comfortable for the child to be away from home for about 3 hours.
- Making friends with other children in the neighbourhood going to the same school could help build familiarity.
- Food and diet needs to be thought through in ways that enable a child fulfil her needs easily. Children need to have exposure to all kinds of food and tastes, so that they are not picky and fussy.
- Showing the child the preparation of food, besides engaging them in its preparation will create an interest to know more about food and its tastes. Tasty and healthy snacks with their names need to be introduced to the child early on.
- Child sizing furniture and providing access to materials that fulfil their daily needs would pave way towards independence for the child.
- Toilet training is a great empowerment. Hence easy clothing as well as process demonstration, including cleaning procedure helps. There is a need to find a school that provides easy access to toilets for this age group.
- Routine of waking early needs to start with the family engaging in some useful productive activity around the house, with the child actively contributing. Setting the day that would help the child sleep early at night and wake up on time for the family ritual everyday. The day would begin this way and slowly move towards preparation for school. This will ease the morning routine tension for the parents on getting their children ready on time.
When the child needs attention, it is good to respond rather than react. The trust on adults largely depends on the attachment cycle that is enabled during early childhood
Parents need awareness on how to prepare themselves and their child towards a school routine.
- Being a parent of a toddler can be quite easy if the parents are able to understand the developmental needs of the child. Each stage comes with its unique demands of physical and mental needs Dr. Montessori describes the young child as a Spiritual embryo, waiting to develop into a being with all the characteristics of a small fully functional representative of the human species.
- Children deserve respect, freedom and an understanding of boundaries and discipline through the freedom they exercise. Parents would have to design their lives offering warmth, care and stability in their parenting approach. The child absorbs everything from the environment he/she lives in, including the culture, language and habits.
- The parents prepare the child by preparing themselves towards a positive outcome or setting up the child for a happy schooling experience. Happy children learn to weather crisis better than unhappy or insecure children.
- “What did you do in school today” is a question that many children detest or turn deaf against in time. Many children wouldn’t know how to answer this question. Hence it is good to provide for silence and calm restful time after they arrive from school.
- Comparing or showing anxiety in front of the child would unsettle the child further, hence if there are issues, it would be good to seek the help of a parenting educator to address it rather than make several mistakes, and thereby challenge the sense of security of the child.
- Making a routine that places the child in the centre, including early sleep and waking hours, opportunities for children to work around the house with real objects are essential for the child to get questions about the world around and the learning would then make sense to her as concepts are taught in the classrooms.
What should I look for in a school before I seek admission?
Admission seeking can be a stressful period for the parents. The children would also feel the anxieties among the family, who would be discussing the pros and cons of various admission steps, recommendation seeking etc.
The child’s needs are paramount when considering a school with
- A distance as near the house as possible,
- Parents being allowed to be present in the premises or precincts till the child settles comfortably into the classroom
- qualified teachers and assistants speaking one or two languages with proficiency.
- Classrooms well ventilated and with large spaces for the child to move around and not stay in small size chairs or desks through the period of stay in the classroom.
- Materials displayed are developmentally appropriate enabling self-learning
- No textbooks or notebooks and writing for the first 2 years as a compulsory activity
- Offers a friendly ambience, a lot of nature based activities and outdoor space,
- Child size clean bathrooms with easy access
- Parents access to the teachers and information about the child is easy and friendly.
- Regular conferencing with parents with ideas on aiding the child’s development
- Library and sports material available that are age appropriate i.e Library books from Indian publishers besides others, books based on reality and humans and not on fantasy or animations
- No visual media based teaching since it affects the brain development of a child negatively.
- Parenting information available with the help of guidance experts regularly at the school itself.
- Flexibility of timings, since the biological clock of the child is just beginning to get into a new routine.
The child once taken to the school should feel welcomed and free. If the child cries continuously and refuses to go to the place, forcing or leaving the child to be managed by the school teachers is detrimental to the trust forming with adults, that needs to happen at this age.
How do I manage TV times for my young pre-schooler, in our joint family setting
TV Watching is a pastime for elders in the family, since they do not move out or have active working periods during the day. A young child should not be exposed to TV watching or for that matter any media based play or viewing. The negative effect it has on the concentration ability as well as brain development seems to be emerging as a cause of worry among school going children.
The young child is slowly trying to understand the language, culture and practices around him. For this, he needs human interactions as he has an absorbent mind that learns from his immediate environment.
The family members need to cooperate to understand the impact of TV watching. They could consider moving the TV out of the living room into their bedroom and restrict timings to the sleep times of the child.
For the young child, providing access to materials that are real, around the house where he can explore and do things himself provides the key to developing concentration.
Sensorial learning is characteristic of a child of this age. They like to explore the things around them. Low shelves with small size dishes, spoons, plates and utensils would help them to participate in the cooking activities around the house. Cooking is an activity that awakens many senses, hence children love to participate, provided parents or adults demonstrate the steps in it.
Gardening and being with nature is an important life experience needed for and much loved for children of these ages. Planting, de-weeding, composting, harvesting, flower picking, flower decoration, salad making, are all activities related to the garden that gives them the sight, sounds and smells of nature. Feeding animals and birds around the house, watching them during early morning hours are all fun activities for the child, that will draw him away from the TV.
Practical life activities useful for the house come with a different purpose for the child. He wishes to construct himself doing these kinds of work, feeling a sense of order and competency. Cleaning, sweeping, wiping, stacking are some ideas to engage the child to help around the house. They cannot be instructed to do so, rather, need to be involved with adults for getting to know the steps to complete.
Providing such opportunities requires spadework, investment of time and some resources to create such an environment in the house. There is bound to be a sea of change in the behaviour and calmness of the child, when active family engagement happens within the household.
How do I say no to my young child when he throws temper tantrums.
A child who has a stubborn personality has to be dealt with a peaceful and not authoritative approach. The child would be demanding something unreasonable and throwing a fit, especially in a public place, much to the consternation of parents or the accompanying adults.
When a child is actually making a demand forcefully, it is very difficult to reason with him or her. Impulsive rebuttals or trying to smother it with a counter force would be in vain. The consciousness has to set in that the boundaries were not explained to the child adequately in this particular area. When things are calm and neutral, a young toddler can be explained to, the boundaries in a language that he understand, on what has happened in the past.
The idea is to present what the expectations are before going out, or if you are expecting a tantrum with a previous history. Being clear, polite and giving options are the best way to address the personality of these children through their growing years.
Showing our temper just to shout down the child or punishing the child instinctively makes the child feel insecure and stubborn. When parents show a sense of calm and predictability of responses, the child begins to construct his personality positively.
For example, if a particular dish is not liked by the child, give him options on whether he stays without food, or eats another alternate food that is available. It is important not to buy or make something just for pleasing the child. We have extended the boundary and cannot contract it subsequently since this experience would stay etched in his mind.
By providing practical options, we are giving a clear message about the limits as well as the freedom to make decisions within the limits. The child will be able to make choices only when there is consistency and clarity in communication, especially on what the expectations are, from the parents, using limited words.