Toddler programme allows a mother and her toddler to attend school together, maybe three times a week, for an hour at a time. The programme is offered to children from around one year of age until they enter a preschool. It aims to help the toddler develop some basic thinking and reasoning functions and learn by trial and error, while involving the parent in the process. The child familiarises himself with the concept of school and is reassured because his mother is also a part of it. Many preschools across India offer the Mother- Toddler programme now.
Helping your child settle into preschool
No matter how well you prepare your child for preschool, he may cry and cling to you in the first few weeks. Don’t worry – this is normal and this phase will pass once your child becomes comfortable in his new environment.
Tips to help your child settle into preschool
- Children take comfort in routine and it helps when their world generally stays constant. So make the daily good-byes at the school door a matter of routine as well. You could make a goodbye ritual with a handshake or a song so your child knows that you’re coming back for him. Try not to prolong the goodbye, keep it short and matter-of-fact. Over time your child will realise that school is a new part of his routine and that you will always come back for him.
- Constantly reassure your child about the fact that you will come back to pick him up no matter what.
- Allow your child to take his favourite toy or blanket with him to school during the first few days so he can feel secure and have something familiar and loved with him.
- Talk to him when he comes home from school, asking him what he did, what new songs he learnt. This will help him articulate his feelings about school and realise that he is enjoying himself.
- Avoid allowing your child to skip school in the first few weeks. The quicker he understands that school is part of his life now and cannot be avoided, the better it is for him. Allowing him to skip school because he is crying will only teach him that he can be allowed to stay at home if he doesn’t want to go.
Schools, for their part, also work hard at ensuring that children settle down quickly. “This is a critical transition period from home to school for the child and it will take time for him to settle in,” says Kulkarni. “Generally, the mother accompanies the child to school for the first few days, and introduces him to the new environment and new faces. So the child is in a new space, but with a comforting figure in the background. Over time, we engage and interest him with toys and activities and the mother slowly slips out of the picture. There will still be bouts of crying, but generally the child will settle down in a week or two.”