Starting the school year: Tips and info for families
For some children, this may be their first experience in a group setting without their parents. This can be both a thrilling and frightening concept, for children and parents. Here are some tips and suggestions that have worked well for other families in the past, to help ease you and your child into the group education environment.
Prepare your child to be independent at school
Make sure he can get in and out of his clothes by himself without any real help from an adult.
For example, pull-on pants with no buttons or zippers and Velcro shoes. If your child can't yet tie up his shoes, don't send him to school in lace ups. Remember, your child is striving for independence and we can foster that by being aware of (and adjusting for) his capabilities and developing skills.
A few weeks before school is a good time to start waking up earlier to get into the "school" routine. Start moving bedtime a little bit earlier every night if summertime has allowed for a later-than-usual bedtime routine.
Help your child practice choosing an outfit the night before. If he decides the next morning that he doesn't want to wear that outfit, help him choose another by offering him two choices. (We always use the "two options" rule with the preschool child; as this is how their brains currently operate. Too many choices can lead to frustration, confusion, and power struggles!)
Above all else, make sure that if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas for how we can support your child’s entrance into our classroom, please let us know. Our goal as educators is to set each child up for success, and to assist them in their journey into education.
You and your child may have loved the Open House and the program tour, but the actual, real, first-day-of-school can be anxiety riddled. The most important thing we suggest to parents is to try not to show any anxiety to your child. Children are sensitive to parent's emotional states and if she senses you are anxious, she may think there is something in this new environment to be anxious about. Be positive and enthusiastic about your child's first days of school - your child will see you feeling excited and happy about this new piece of their world, and will follow your lead!
Talk about what is going to happen a few times before the first day - children are less anxious if they have an idea what to expect.
Let the teachers help with the separation. Indicate when you are ready to go so that we can hold and comfort your child if he is crying. Then say goodbye and LEAVE. Don’t hesitate or linger or come back because that will just make it more difficult for your child; this can feel very uncomfortable and uneasy for parents, as they can feel a lot of anxiety and guilt when leaving their child, who may be visibly upset - trust in the fact that we will ABSOLUTELY call and let you know if your child has not calmed/become comfortable within a few minutes, so that you can come back. As hard as it is, the best thing for your child is to not create an environment where they are "unsure" - unsure if you are gone/still there, unsure if you are hiding/waiting in another area - this creates very real anxiety for your child. Having clear outlines of what they can expect (you are leaving, but will definitely be back at a set time), is in their best interest.
Don't leave without saying goodbye. The next time, your child won't trust when you are going to leave and can become even more anxious. Believe it or not a solid "Goodbye. Mummy will pick you up at lunchtime" is much more reassuring to a child.
Be prepared to do the same thing for a while. She may have had a great time on the first day of school but would really rather stay home with Mummy. Goodbye on the second, third and fourth days of school can be just the same as on the first. Trust that she will settle down in a little while.
If you are concerned, feel free to set up a time to speak with your Teachers after class time, so we can brainstorm ways to support your child through this transition period.
The first days of a new school are wonderful, frightening, thrilling, and stimulating - for you and your child. Trust that you've made the right choice and stay in touch with your child's teachers.
Phasing in Periods
We highly recommend “Phasing in Periods” for new students, especially if they are between the ages of 2.5 years – 3.5 years.
Phasing in Periods are shorter initial days, to help your child become accustomed to our program, daily schedule, and being away from their family.
We recommend that for the first official day of classes, you limit your child to only staying for the first hour, and then depending on how that day goes, determine whether to have a shorter second day, or extend it to the full 2.5 hour program.
Families in past years have given the feedback that this strategy has helped their child immensely, and it started their experience off on a positive note.
What to bring on the first day
In our Parent Welcome Package, we detail what parents are required to provide for their child’s first day, as well as what to keep at School on a regular basis. Please take a few minutes to read through it.
We offer mailboxes for children to use on a daily basis, as a space for belongings that are either: finished and ready to be taken home, or are in the process of being completed and need a safe place to stay. If you are ever unsure whether an item in your child’s mailbox is ready to take home, please feel free to ask any Teacher.
Each child has their own labelled Locker in the Locker Room, where they have spots to store their outdoor clothing, outdoor shoes, and indoor shoes. These Lockers are shared between an AM and PM student, so we ask all families to please not leave any clothing/backpacks in these lockers overnight. Each child DOES have a space to keep their indoor shoes, and those do NOT need to go home each day. We do ask all families to have at least one complete change of clothes available at the School, at all times, in case your child does become wet/dirty during the course of their class time. This can either be kept in your backpack (hanging in your locker, to take home each day), or in your child’s mailbox (which can be left permanently at school, does not need to be taken home each day).
Each assigned Locker has a basket for your child's indoor shoes - we do ask families to support your child in their development on self-help skills by allowing them to put their own shoes on and off before and after class.