At the onset of a new academic year, what can you do to help your toddler adjust to the new world? DNA tells you how to tackle the nursery blues.
A few weeks back I accompanied my sister for her six year old son's school shopping. And so I found myself among a horde of parents at bookstores, clothes stores and so on.
A pro at multi-tasking, my sister went about with the school shopping at ease: uniform - check, school books - check, rain gear - check, new school bag and water bottle - check. It's with all the checks and re-checks, parents finally sent their kids back to schools and studies.
After a long sultry summer, children are well armed to face the academic season. Students of the higher standards have joined coaching classes to deal with next year's board exams, those of the secondary and primary school are taking tuitions for a new school year.
But what about our nursery and kindergarten friends… they are entering a new world altogether?
Its been a few weeks now of adjusting to a new class teacher, classmates, being away from mom, daadi, naani and everything that looks and is familiar. As our children set foot outside the comforts of the house they take on the world independently and it is our responsibility to give them the confidence to be able to stand on their own. Here are a few guidelines to help you make your child’s first experience at school a stress-free one.
Five little steps before school
Preparing a child for nursery is a very stressful task not just for the child but more so for parents. By going through the school routine atleast a week in advance can definitely help.
Step 1-Nap time: Be sure that your child has a good sleep routine. There is nothing like waking up completely refreshed for school. Read to your child every day. Make it part of your bedtime routine if you wish.
Step 2-Classroom training: Set aside time to do an educational activity. If your child has siblings who go to school, the idea of "playing school" would be great. Buy simple workbooks; puzzle books like matching pictures, shapes, colour, fruit, flower names, number books, etc.
Step 3-Flashboard signs: Play games with flash cards. By the start of kindergarten children should know a good handful of "sight words." A sight word is simply a word that is recognised immediately, without having to sound it out. Flash cards that help with this have a picture with the work spelled under or above it. Start asking your child "what is this?" and they will use the picture to tell you. Working on three flash cards a day is sufficient.
Step 4-Stepping out: Take your child out on field trips. A child learns so much just by listening and watching. Collect leaves outside and make an art project out of them, talk about the shapes of the road signs, anything to keep their active minds busy.
Step 5-Making friends: Socialisation is also a key at this age. Join a play-group, meet at the playground with other parents with kids of the same age. Dance classes are offered to children as young as two and they learn much more than just dance-they have to listen to a teacher, take turns, learn right from left, listen to instruction, etc. all very important skills.
What else can you do?
Familiarise your child with the working of the school. Visit the nursery or school with your child to give him an opportunity to see what the class does. Experts suggest that a visit to the school during lunch-break is the best, so that your child can see other kids playing and being happy at school. If your child like to read books, read to him/ her about other kids starting school and how they enjoy their time there. Talk about your child's interests and the things he'll enjoy there - for example "there will be lots of toys to play with - you'll love that" or "there will be story time". Talk about the enjoyable activities he'll be doing that build on things he already does at home like painting, drawing, cutting and pasting and listening to stories,
Other things to look at
These are the most important. Children need to be trained to follow a routine according to the school. So at lunch time you could say, "now it's our lunchtime and at school you'd be eating your lunch too." Getting ready for school for instance, doing up the buttons and fastening shoes etc can be taught too, but don't pressure them if this proves too difficult; teachers are trained in helping children in the early days of school.
Encourage social skills, such as taking turns, following directions and making choices. More importantly social manners like saying thank you, please, excuse me, put up your hand and ask for permission before speaking in class etc have to be acquainted with.
Remember, all these activities should be fun - it's important not to pressurise your child and remember to instill "school is fun too" attitude right from the start.