AS PRINTED IN THE MAIL ON SUNDAY AUG 10TH 2014:
New beginnings can be daunting especially for kids. Going to big school or indeed preschool like James is exciting but it does bring about change, which can make them feel a little nervous or scared.
The Toddler Inn which is James crèche/preschool have recently moved James upstairs to the preschool room as he has been in school all summer and they thought it might be nice to ease him in.
This was met with great excitement. I could barely utter a word at home without constantly being reminded that he is now a big boy. He even woke one morning and told me he was the boss. It was at this point I knew we had to have a chat.
However I came to understand quite quickly that his expectations were not playing out like he had thought in preschool. He had joined some of the older boys and girls who had already been in that class and had formed their friends already. Some of the new kids didn’t share his passion for all things dinosaurs and then the worst possible life event happened- James broke up with Holly!
Holly had also moved upstairs and James said that she had started to play with the older boys and wouldn’t play with him anymore. Now you need to understand that this was a stable long-term relationship that had been going on for well over a year. We were all shocked including nana, so you can imagine my horror when James announced that he was now going out with Lauren and they were getting married. ‘But I thought you were marrying Sophia the first from the Disney cartoon’ I said. This option was far safer for me as I knew that they would never meet. However having to deal with the situation in hand, I explained that I felt he was moving on too quickly after Holly and that they should take their time. I explained that he had the rest of his life ahead of him and that there was plenty of time for thinking about marriage in the future.
He was sitting in the back of the car eating a cornetto but it looked like the cornetto had eaten him when through a white ice cream covered face, two little eyes looked at me and simply said ‘ok mum’!
The main lesson I learnt here is that these worries only stick around for a while but I also learnt that to James they are huge.
The next day James hugged me and said thanks for everything mum now can I go back downstairs I miss the babies and Rosie, who was his teacher. It made me realize that no matter what stage of life you’re at its difficult sometimes to cope with change.
I certainly know that as an adult I have to push myself through fear barriers every day. The trick is not to pass any anxiety onto them. Be open and really try and listen.
Ask open questions like ‘how are you feeling about going back to school?’ ‘are you excited?’ or ‘Are you nervous?’ to draw them out a bit. Kids are so unique so their worry might not be anything you’d consider.
If it’s a new school and it’s unfamiliar I would definitely recommend a visit to the school. Have a walk around so it becomes familiar. Create a buzz and chat about your first day at school (if you remember)!
If you’re child is leaving a preschool where none of the other kids will be joining him or her in big school try and make some kind of connection with other parents locally. Sometimes the school can help with this or there could be an online forum for the school. Carpooling is also a great idea.
As parents, try and support each other as much as possible. Your child’s first day at school is emotional or if you’re me every time something new happens its emotional. I cried when I dropped him upstairs from downstairs for heavens sake. What on earth will I be like when he actually moves building?
MY TOP TIPS:
1. Most kids are quite resilient so don’t project your anxieties onto them.
2. Organize to be present and available especially in the early days. If working parents could organize that for the first day they are there to drop off and pick up if possible. If you’re not able to be there, perhaps a trusted close friend or family member could step in to ease the transition.
3. Children thrive on reassurances so make sure you let them know that everything will be ok.
4. You can never be sure how your child will react when you get there. They might feel overwhelmed and get very upset so plan for this and if necessary stay with them until they’re settled maybe leaving an item of comfort for them to mind until you return. We have an imaginary fairy called freckles that stays to mind James when he’s a bit teary which can happen from time to time.
5. Try and save some money and sanity by keeping an eye out for deals and being prepared the night before. I know when I lay clothes and shoes out ready to go life runs much smoother the next day as I’m simply just not a morning person.
6. Finally take a picture. Your baby is starting school now and a whole new world of adventures await.