It’s the start of a new school year and, for some families, the start of early childhood education!
This means that little ones will be joining ‘the big world’, by attending pre-school for the first time. It’s an exciting stage in a child’s life but, also a big transition for them and the rest of the family.
In this week’s Petit Love blog, we’ve pulled together some advice, from various parenting articles, that might help both parents and little ones for this next exciting chapter!
The Petit Love Pre-School Wardrobe
- Dark-coloured clothing that’s more forgivable on stains and messes; loose and comfortable and perfect for play is also a big win
- Did you know? Sun hats are now a nursery school requirement!
- The non-spillable sippy cup, essential for lunch boxes & mom bags
“When you’ve been by your baby’s side from when they were born, it’s hardly a surprise that watching them disappear into a room of virtual strangers is enough to trigger feelings of anxiety and sadness amongst parents.” ~ Georgia James, Writer
As a parent, these feelings are normal but shouldn’t take away from the positive development of your child. So, we wanted to share some tips on how best to handle this new phase with confidence.
Children can start pre-school from as little as 3 months old. This is dependent on each family and their needs. Some parents opt to send their children from 6 months old, once their maternity leave is up, and others a bit later on. Other parents only send their children to a daycare a few times a week and others, full-time.
Early childhood education is important for a child’s development. It’s a place for them to learn as well as develop their emotional and social skills, says Educational Psychologist Tshepiso Matentjie. Children can interact with other children through play, which helps build their stamina and energy levels.
“We know from the research that daycare is very positive for your baby’s growing independence, learning and socialisation.” – Heather Wittenberg, Child Psychologist
Babies are at the peak of separation and stranger anxiety between 6-12 months old. Unfortunately, this is the age that most babies are going into pre-school.
But, there are ways you can optimistically prepare your child and ease them into this new routine.
The Petit Love Backpack is the perfect accessory for parents and lasts a lifetime. As your little one gets ready for their day of pre-school you can make sure you’re prepared with all of the essentials you’ll need. From bottles, to nappies, to easy-to-find key clips, to baby wipe pouches, this PVC backpack has it all!
Preparation: For Children
Talk to your child about going to pre-school. Ensure your tone is positive and comforting.
Start by sending your child to pre-school for an hour each day to get used to it. Another option is to start them on Thursday so your child doesn’t immediately go into a five-day schedule.
For babies, pack something in their bags that is familiar and smells like home. This could be a blanket or even a parent’s item of clothing. For older children, a laminated photograph of their family can help provide comfort.
If your child is having difficulty settling in, arrive at pre-school an hour earlier and play with your child until they are comfortable to say goodbye.
Create a consistent goodbye ritual that is quick and reassuring. Whether it is a high-five, a kiss on both cheeks or whatever feels natural for you. Make sure you use this routine every time so your child knows what to expect. This also limits you, as a parent, from lingering which makes goodbyes harder.
Do not sneak away, this creates a sense of abandonment in your child. Always say goodbye and tell your child when they can expect to see you again. For example, “after storytime I will be here to fetch you”.
“The routine of saying goodbye and reassuring them that you will return is essential when supporting a child to settle into an unfamiliar environment.”
Most children who attend pre-school will be shy and nervous in the beginning. But babies and children are more resilient than we give them credit for. They should adjust in a short time and will start to have loads of fun, even looking forward to school!
For parents, sending their child to their first early childhood education centre can be emotional. It can trigger feelings of stress, fear or even sadness due to the separation, change in routine or even due to their own past experiences.
Preparation: For Parents
Even if you’re feeling emotional, try not let your child see that you are stressed or anxious, they will pick it up and start to feel worried too.
Babies need bottles, nappies, extra clothing and more. To put your mind at ease and eliminate any morning chaos, create a list and pack any bags the night before.
Expect tears, both at drop-off and pick-up! It’s important not to react to your child’s anxiety by becoming impatient with them. Communicate with the teacher to see if your child remains upset throughout the day or if their tears dry up after you leave. Upon pick-up, you can also expect some tears, especially from little ones. This is their way of decompressing after a day in a new social situation.
But, if you could remember your first experience at your first early childhood education centre, you’d have felt the same way as your child.
Your child will be more tired. Try to keep to a healthy sleep routine while they gain stamina for a full day of play and socialising.
If you are struggling with the separation, chat to the pre-school, perhaps if you work close you can pop in for a visit throughout the day. Try to distract yourself with a new hobby if you have more free time. Get in touch with the other parents from the pre-school as you are probably not alone in your feelings.
Photography by: Wilma Kotzé from Kaleidoscope SA
Early Childhood Education Sources: