September is the month for starting school. School bags to prepare, changes to be delivered to teachers, friends to meet, new teachers to meet or old ones to see again.
So many emotions are a feature of this period: teachers enthusiastic about starting again who prepare colourful spaces and fun activities, parents a little anxious as they seek to introduce their child and leave them with the teacher, with a thousand questions: will she understand my child? Will she be able to understand his/her needs? And what if he/she cries? Will they call me? And what if he/she does not eat?
Then they arrive, with eyes full of curiosity, with tears of fear, beating hearts, meeting hands and conquering smiles...children!
How can I tell if my child is ready to start infant school?
Imagine facing a new challenge: a new environment, new friends, new things to discover; how many different emotions would you experience?!
We adults and also our little ones react in different ways to new beginnings. Fear, agitation but also curiosity, amazement, are just some of the many emotions that can characterise the beginning of infant school.
Infant school represents an important moment in the development of the child; it is one of the first occasions in which children put themselves to the test in their social, communicative, relational and emotional skills. For many children who have attended nursery school, the beginning of infant school means “returning” to an educational context as they have already experienced separation from their parents; for others it means not only moving away for the first time from their points of reference but also from well-known and familiar spaces, objects, rhythms and times. In any case, this is a very important and delicate moment and it is important to accept and understand the possible fears and concerns of children and parents. It is not always possible to feel joy and enthusiasm in going to school, especially in the initial moments and this does not mean that the children are not ready to start school!
A helpful attitude helps to communicate that all emotions can be compatible in the face of a new beginning. It is essential not to get agitated and worried but to have a welcoming and understanding demeanour with respect to all the emotions that our children manifest accompanying them emotionally at the beginning of this great adventure!
How to deal with starting school: the emotions of Mum and Dad and the emotions of the child?
For parents, the start of infant school and therefore the separation from their children is a time full of doubts and questions: Will they be okay? Will they make friends? Will they eat? These concerns are then often perceived by our children and for this reason it is important to keep calm! A confident attitude with respect to our children’s resources and those of the school that will take care of them is extremely important so as to make the most of the beginning of this adventure. Certainly, there may be times of difficulty, but communicating calmness and trust helps to create a feeling of security and autonomy. It is very important not to isolate yourself! Sharing one’s views with teachers and other parents is essential to create an alliance network whose primary objective is to promote the well-being of all the children at the school.
How important are routines and punctuality?
Organising things for school such as school bags, uniform or change of clothes etc. is not just a logistical aspect but can also be an opportunity to familiarise and talk about infant school. It is also a great time to listen to what children are imagining, what their expectations are and make them part of the information we already have. An example. Our children may imagine that they will be at school for a few hours and then come home for lunch. The moment for preparing the change of clothes or uniform could be useful to say that lunch will actually be at school with the other children. It might also be useful to share what we already know about school routines so that the children feel that their parents know and are happy with the school, which is still an unknown place for them.
Another fundamental aspect, especially when school has already begun, is not to continually assert things like: “It’s late, it’s late”. It is important to manage time so that there is room for the children to wake up quietly and calmly and enjoy a breakfast that is not only food nourishment but also emotional nourishment with time for talking.
Does your child get angry at infant school and hit other children or are they sad because they are hit by others and do not want to go to school anymore?
These are normal situations and it is not wise to try to solve them by blaming the teachers because they do not monitor the children or because they should not allow these things to happen. Fortunately, these things happen at school, precisely in the right, appropriate and functional place where children can be accompanied in experiencing all kinds of new situations that can then be managed in the most correct way not only by following social rules but also by following their own way of being.