Monday, 10 August 2015

Preparing Your Young Child For the First Day of School


The very first day of school in a young child's life is never easy: the unfamiliar surroundings, faces, rules and routines and the anxiety of being separated from mum. Sometimes it is as hard on the mum and it is on the child.

When my first born went to school on his first day, I remembered his sad little face trying bravely not to cry as I left. It had me crying instead but I didn't want him to see me cry as that would have triggered him. It broke my heart to leave him by himself like that. My son had always been with me and when I came home, it felt like a part of me was missing. Everywhere I turned, it was strangely quiet without him. It was at times like these that I told myself that I should have homeschooled him. And so it went for the first couple of months with me missing him terribly. But time does heal and you do get over it.

Just like your child would get over the stressful first days and eventually learn that schools can be a fun place to be with friends. I have seen this many times with my prekinders. They are all different. Some are very excited and will eagerly leave mum or dad. Some will need a little coaxing and will find comfort with me. And then there are those children who will not let go of mum or dad and cannot be comforted but will cry the place down. But all of them gradually learn love to be in the prekindy classes because of the fun activities and friends.

To help your child prepare for his or her first day of school, here are some things you could do.

1. Talk about school beforehand.
Don't just hit your child with it without any preparation. Talk about the things he'll do there and the other kids he'll meet. Read a book on the topic and have a discussion.

2. Prepare a special bag and lunchbox.
Shop together to choose a bag and lunchbox just perfect for school. Make them special by only using them for school. This will get your child excited to go to school to use them. Children are always excited by their bags and lunchboxes and what's inside them. They are always showing each other what they have.

3. Keep reassuring your child that you'll be back to pick him up.
Always emphasise that you'll come back when school is finished to pick him up. You can do this constantly before school starts and also on the day. What I noticed most about little children is their fear of being abandoned by mum or dad, that mum or dad has left them and they'll never see mum or dad again. So you'd need to always be reassuring them that you'll be back. Until your child has confidence that you'll come back he'll continue to cling. For some children this might take several weeks of their mum coming to pick them up to secure their confidence.

4. Let your child see you smiling.
Children can sense their parent's emotions. If you are sad and stressed on your child's first day then he'll pick up on it. So do your best to put on a brave and excited face. I get parents who are worried over their child who are passing this worry onto their child. Then there are the excited parents, the clinging parents, the I'm-free parents - all types of parents and you can see this reflected in their children. So relax. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that everything will be ok. 

5. Take along a comfort item.
If your child has a favourite toy, picture, book, clothing - whatever item it is that is special to your child, then let him hold onto it. This is his familiar item that will provide him with comfort. I had this one little girl who clung onto a handkerchief. She wouldn't let it go, not even for us to wipe her eyes.

6. Say goodbye without prolonging it or sneaking off.
Make your goodbye short and firm. The longer you stand there trying to comfort him the harder it will be for either of you to let go. At the opposite end of the coin, don't just sneak off while he's not watching. Do say goodbye. When you sneak off you're teaching your child to always be searching for you just to be sure you haven't disappeared. I've had mums who disappeared even without me knowing and for the rest of the time their children felt abandoned. The next time these children attended classes, they are forever looking over their shoulders to make sure mum was still there.

Extra Tip: Pack an extra set of clothing. 
If your child isn't the crying type that will cry so much that he ends up vomiting his breakfast then he might be the type that will have 'accidents' in his clothing. Some children get too excited that they try to hold onto their bladder so they don't have to go to the toilet and miss out on the fun. Then there are some children who are so timid or shy who will not say anything until it's too late (and still they won't tell you). So it's a good idea to pack an extra set of clothing just in case. Keep an extra set in his bag for first half of the school year.

23 comments:

  1. I remember, how it was to send my son to school. :(
    In a year my 2nd son would be in play school. Your tips could come handy.
    Thanks

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    1. Insha Allah.

      My second son was different to my first. He was the youngest among all his cousins so he really looked forward to school. He went in the first day and loved it ever since, mashaAllah.

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  2. My three year old will start school in a few weeks, and she keeps talking about it, but I know it'll be harder for me than her. May Allah protect all our children, and grant them success in all their endeavors.

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  3. Replies
    1. How was your son's experience with day care? I remember you recently put him in one? Did it go smoothly?

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    2. Oh, alhamdulellah... It went so smoothly... He turns out not to be the kind of baby that cries after us :-D
      At the beginning he was alittle stiffened, and he would frawn at people there, but now, once we give him to his teacher, he waves to us good bye :-D (good bye mommy and daddy... Yalla go, I want to plaaaay!) :-D

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    3. :D MashaAllah. Yeah each child is different. My second was the same when he started school - it was like "see you later" without a backward glance but my first was more clingy.

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    4. I was a terribly clingy child! And my husband was as well! :-D
      But alhamdulellah we are lucky with our child...

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  4. Sounds exactly what my childrens first days' were like as well. As they grow, they start to really look forward to the beginning of the new school year...but I think a mums anxiousness doesn't entirely go away. I still have first day nerves, but manage to hide it from my kids :D Great tips!

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    1. I think it depends on personality. My first doesn't really look forward to school. He doesn't fight it but it's not like it's the best place to be for him. He would sometimes asked to be homeschooled. But my second one LOVES school and he's very competitive so he likes to get top marrks and be the best at everything. Alhamdulillah.

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  5. Being a new mummy, this post got me all emotional. Time will fly and before I know it my daughter will be in school. *sobs*

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    1. Yes, subhanallah, it does go quickly. sometimes I would come across an old photo and really missed those years. So enjoy your daughter's every day. Be really present because soon she will be all grown up. My first son is now in high school subhanallah, 'in the blink of an eye'.

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  6. MashaAllah nice advice. I'll save this under my "when the babies come inshaAllah" mental notes!

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  7. Some great tips...My eldest is 9 now but I will be going through this with my youngest in a few years

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    1. It's always different each time around!

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  8. I am actually dreading this, in a few days my daughter is going to Reception :s. She has been in a Islamic nursery since she was 2 and now she's going to a christian primary school, she is very much into her deen even though she's young, it's just going to be a culture shock for her or maybe i am more scared than she is

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    1. May Allah makes it easy on you both.

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  9. Yes to all of these tips. As a preschool teacher, I recommend these things to. I know parents mean well but sneaking off to avoid the confrontation but it only makes them have abandonment issues! It's better to make a clean but firm break on the way out reassuring them that they love them and will be back. :)

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    1. I hate it when they do that. I turn around and they're gone. If I feel this then imagine their child's feelings when they turn around and don't see their parent...! Definite traumatisation! (is that a word :)

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  10. Assalamu alaikom,

    I agree on all these points especially that no. 6, I witnessed a lot of moms, especially here in my country, when they sneak off thinking that it would make it easier for the child not to see her mom depart from her. In shaa Allah will apply these tips when I become a mother myself, and will teach it to other moms I know. :-)

    JazakAllah khair for sharing.

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    1. Wa alaykum salam. Please do spread the word. Wa iyaki.

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