Tips on how to ease your child into preschool
- Talk to your child before he starts preschool. Explain the concept of school to him and describe all the different activities that he will be doing, and the new friends that he will make. Even an 18-month old can understand what school is about if it is explained to him simply enough.
- Use positive words when talking about schooling – fun, interesting, a lot of play, friends, laughter, song…. never talk about school as hard work and discipline. There is no surer way to make your child fear school!
- Read out books that have beginning school as a theme – there are enough books that show familiar characters – Elmo, Pepper, Bruno, Dora – all starting school and enjoying themselves immensely.
- This is a great time to start teaching your child to enjoy learning. If he feels that school is an enjoyable place where he can learn and experience something new each day, this feeling will stay with him even as he grows older.
- If you have an older sibling at home, your task is easier. Your younger child will most probably be eager to join the ranks of the older children and ‘go to school.’ Even in a house without siblings, the parent can familiarise the child with the idea of school by pointing out neighbours’ kids, cousins, etc. who all attend school and enjoy the experience.
- A few months before your toddler begins school, arrange social activities – playdates – for him, so he can interact with other children and learn to play alongside them.
- Teach your child to deal with your absence. Laxmi Kulkarni, Head of Pre- Schools, Children’s Nook, Mumbai, explains that if parents are in the habit of leaving the child at home for a short period of time with a caregiver, the transition to school becomes easier. She advises parents to make it a point to leave their child at home for some time and then come back – maybe in half an hour, maybe an hour. This teaches the child that even if you do leave him for some time, you will always come back for him, and this will lessen some of his anxiety at being left behind in school.
- Consider taking your child for a Mother-Toddler programme (see box) to help him understand the concept of school.
“My one-year old son used to see his sister going to school every day. He also wanted to be ‘grown up’ and do the same. So when he actually started school ten months later, he settled down quite quickly. Just seeing his sister helped; also the fact that we spoke a lot about school to him and read books on the topic to him.”
– Aarti Mahesh, Chennai