Posted on December 31 2019
It’s a big day for both your child and you.
Ease the separation anxiety and get your child excited about pre-school with these tips from our favourite mummies.
1. Sleep and Wake Up Early
Michelle Hon, founder of the Mom Boss Academy, shared that her youngest will be starting preschool this year. She shares, “I’ll make sure he sleeps early the night before, so he can get up early and not rush through the first morning.”
Getting up earlier also allows your child to take his time getting ready. Additionally, you might even be able to take a first day of school photo to commemorate the occasion. Be sure to reiterate how proud you are of him. This also allows you to bring him to school earlier so he can meet his teachers, some new friends and generally get accustomed to the environment around him. Be sure to point out any of his friends who are in the same class so he has someone he knows and trusts.
2. Go through what’s going to happen during preschool
All of the mums agreed this was an important step. Be sure to let them know what activities they can expect, a rough timetable of what is happening at what time, as well as where you’ll be during this time. Moreover, do let them know what time they’ll be picked up and by whom.
If it’s possible, try a dry run of the whole day’s activities at home so they get used to the schedule. For example, Joanne Kukk, mum of two, took her older daughter Alaynna to the nearest preschool when the kids were being dropped off. She then told Alaynna what activities she’d be doing. These include naps, playing with her friends and learning new things. Joanne also stressed that when it’s time to go home, she’d be there to pick her daughter up without fail. If there was a need, her daughter could also ask her teacher to call her.
Additionally follow the school’s timetable for a few days before the first day. Hence, your child will have his meals and naps, and learn various things according to the school timetable. This will help your child easily adjust to the routine when he’s in school.
3. Give your child something to look forward to after school.
Joanne says that they had a celebratory dinner and treat to encourage her child, regardless of whether she cried or not. Otherwise, you could consider a reward system, where you give your child a calendar, and if she goes to class without crying, she gets a smiley face (and if not, she gets a sad face). After five days of getting smiley faces, she gets a treat.
4. Let them pick out their own belongings.
Get them excited for school by letting them pick their own school supplies. Joanne bought Alaynna a new school bag and a water bottle with her favourite cartoon character. Other important essentials could include letting your child pick out the snacks he wants to eat during school. Make sure everything is labelled so your children don’t lose these precious items.
Huda Ali, TV presenter, founder of Laloolalang and mum of two, says that this helps them “be mentally prepared that school means meeting friends without mummy or daddy around.” She adds that it could help with separation anxiety and hopefully “unnecessary crying at the gate”.
5. Let them pack a “security blanket” item.
If you’re sending your child to childcare, be sure to let them bring their favourite pillows or blankets. Otherwise, items that remind them of you like a family picture or your favourite thing will enable them to feel better and safer about going to school. Additionally, if they’ve taken your favourite top, for example, they’ll know you’re going to come back for it - and them. Other great ideas include leaving notes for them in their lunch box, or giving them a watch so they can remind themselves that you’ll be back to pick them up soon.
6. Play up the positive aspects of preschool.
Be sure to express loads of interest in their activities after school. For example, if they did a certain craft, ask them for more details and reinforce the perks of going to school. Some other positive aspects might be that he gets to make new friends, and learn new things. Shiela Matias, mum of two, adds, “Assure them that they will be fine in school. If they are good in school, they’ll get to play more there and at home.”
7. Don’t sneak away. Give timer warnings before you go.
While it may be tempting to sneak away while your child is otherwise engaged, it’s much better for you to let them know when you’re going to leave. Jacqueline Chew, mum of twins, recommends giving timers at 15, 10 and 5 minutes so they are aware of what’s happening.
Alternatively, create a goodbye ritual so that your children understand when you’re leaving. Examples of this could be a high five and a wave or two hugs and a wave. This signals to your child that it is time for you to leave. Equally important is telling your child you will return, so that they can eventually grasp this concept. Better yet, try as much as possible to be on time, hence your child will not need to wonder if he/she has been abandoned.
8. Address their feelings of being frightened.
Acknowledge their fears of going into an unfamiliar surrounding, and try to alleviate their fears by listening to their concerns about starting school. Together, help come up with a solution to these fears. For instance, perhaps your daughter is afraid she might have an accident in school. Help her by bringing her to the toilet so she knows how to get to the preschool’s toilet on her own. Just to be safe, Serene Chua, co-founder of Wolf Burgers and Carvers & Co, and mum of three, suggests packing extra snacks, clothes and diapers. She also recommends telling the children to ask their teachers if they need help with anything.
9. It’s a work in progress.
It’s perfectly natural for some kids to keep crying for the first few days, or even a couple of weeks later, once the novelty of school has worn off. While you work on allaying any fears, also make sure you maintain a composure of calm when you drop them off every day. Finally, don’t over-schedule play dates and celebrations - children also need their downtime!
Follow our favourite mummies as they navigate parenthood here:
Getting ready for your little one’s first day? Make sure he/she has everything he/she needs.