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When we see our baby take each small step, and cross a milestone, it gives us immense pleasure as a parent. I remember when our son uttered his first word, it was a time for celebration in our family. With each passing milestone, our heart yearns for the next one. In no time we realise that our small bundle of joy is ready to take a big step in his/her life. It’s time to go to school. This realisation opens up a plethora of emotions within us. We are not only elated but also worried. Our baby, whom we cared for and shielded from everything bad is going to enter a new world, where he will be away from us, for the first time in two and half years. At this point our worries will be endless, but trust me it’s not really that bad. With proper planning things will automatically fall in place. We must remember a few important things that will help us in crossing this milestone smoothly.
First, is the school we select. It’s always better to join your child to a preschool before he steps into proper school. The preschool you select should be the one that should suit your child perfectly. I remember, when we started preschool hunting for our son, three years back, we visited around 6-7 preschools in our area with a criteria list in hand. All preschools will provide with almost similar facilities, but yet they will differ in some aspects. When we visited those preschools our first criteria was that there shouldn’t be any stairs inside. Yes, you are hearing me right. Our son is highly active, beyond ones imagination. We didn’t want him to get hurt by running up and down the stairs. Making a criteria list before visiting preschools will help a lot in narrowing down to finally that one school. Criteria list should contain safety aspects of school, security measures, hygiene followed, ventilation of classrooms, behavior of teachers and other non-teaching staff, concepts and methods of teaching, to name a few. Next comes dealing with separation anxiety and preparing your kid for the same.
Since your child is familiar with the faces he sees daily at home, suddenly putting him in a new place with unfamiliar faces with create a lot of anxiety within your little ones mind. He’ll cry and will refuse to leave you and stay alone in that new atmosphere. Preparing your child before hand will help a lot in dealing with separation anxiety. Take your child out to park, shopping malls, friends and neighbors places. Let him interact with strangers. Create play dates with children of similar age in your society. It will not only help him in bonding with kids his age, you can also use this opportunity to go out of his sight for say 10 – 15 minutes and let him get used to your absence. You can slowly increase the time, once he’s comfortable. The most important thing is to make a habit of talking to your child at bedtime. Tell him stories about how fun school is, the number of friends he’ll make, the games teachers will play with him and so on. You’ll find that in no time your child will actually look forward to going to school.
One thing I can guarantee you here is that, no matter how prepared you think you are, the first day of school can still be anxious for you and your child. Make the most of the moment, and don’t let anxiety take a toll on your mind, as the first step to school will happen only once.