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Parenting Tips

Discussion in 'Primary' started by FRENCHSCHOOL, Jun 16, 2011.

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    The day my son started school (at
    two-and-a-half) was the day my nightmare began.
    There I was assuming that because I was teacher and parent I was in
    charge of the situation. At that time,
    we were in a different continent, in a different country where the language was
    not English. The truth is that I had imagined
    that because of my position I was going to handle the first day of school much
    better than anyone else. Boy was I proved

    On the first day of school we
    got there pretty early to avoid any further stress and so that I could have a
    word with the teacher and spend time with my son before the bell rang. Unfortunately, things did not turn out as I
    had expected. When the bell rang, I handed
    my son’s nappy bag to the Teaching Assistant explaining that he also had his feeding
    bottle inside in case he asked for his milk.
    The look on her face told me that I was doing something wrong.

    All I remember was that she said “Madame, this is not a crèche, this is
    a school. You will have to take everything
    back.” I also recall trying to hold back
    the tears and I barely had time to compose myself when someone else led me to
    the door and mentioned that it was time to go.
    I don’t remember how I got to the play ground. What I recall is that I was sitting on a swing
    when I called my mum in our country.
    From the playground I could see my son’s face against the classroom
    window with the tears flowing down his cheeks. The guilt and separation anxiety I felt were indescribable.
    I don’t know how long I sat there after I had

    spoken to my mum. What
    I do know is that this feeling – a sense of loss - lasted for almost three

    Starting school for my son, I
    think was worse for him than it was for me.
    I wish I had gathered up the courage to ask more questions before-hand
    and to talk to other parents before the “journey” began. Yes, I say journey because that is what
    starting school is about: a long journey that needs careful preparation, organisation
    and planning. With hind-sight, I would
    have loved to have a small, simple guide I could refer to in case of

    As a teacher, counsellor and
    parent, I have compiled a list of some of the most important issues that need
    to be addressed before school begins and during the days that follow. Most of the tips, I found through different
    sites on the net. I hope this will help
    parents experiencing pre-school blues approach one of the most important events
    in their lives – their child’s first day at a school - in a much calmer way. Being prepared will help you influence your
    child positively.

    Good luck!

    Inez Randolph (Ms)

    1. Visit the school premises

    During the registration period, take your child to the school
    to visit the premises so that he can familiarise himself with the surroundings.
    If possible, you should also visit your
    child’s future classroom so that he can have an idea of the environment
    (reading corner, play area, pigeon holes, etc.). Arrange a meeting with the class teacher and
    introduce yourself and your child to him. It would also be helpful if you could
    take trips to the school a few times more before school starts to help your
    child familiarise himself with the landmarks on the way. This should help ease some of the tension and
    anxiety. If the school is not far from
    your house, you could do the visit by foot. On a fine day, a walk is also a
    pleasant way to go to school.

    2. Show interest in the new change

    Show interest in the change by talking about the transition as
    often as you can with a lot of enthusiasm. Encourage your child to ask
    questions about school life and be supportive in your answers. Let your child understand it is normal to
    feel anxious and scared because you sometimes feel the same way too. The key word here is NORMAL.
    Show interest in the change, however,
    do not stress nor insist too much on this state of affairs because of the
    deception it might cause. The reality in
    school is quite different from that at home.

    Realising that the rules and regulations in school, even
    though different from the ones at home, must be obeyed is fundamental. He should be made to understand that other
    children who are starting school like him also feel that way. In the same way, parents also sometimes feel
    anxious and scared for different reasons including your child’s first day at
    school. Your doing this will help to
    reassure him.

    3. Safety Tips

    Talk to your child about safety tips. Remind your child not to
    leave school with anyone without checking first with their teacher. He should never
    accept rides without seeking permission from you and never take shortcuts. Ask
    him to tell you if anything “suspicious” occurs. Talk to him about the Highway
    Code especially, with regard to crossing the road. For parents whose children
    use bikes, do take time to explain how to use the road signs when riding a
    bike. For children who take the bus,
    remind them to stay on the bus and hold on to the bus handrails

    when they are getting on and off the bus. This point on safety tips should be addressed
    whenever you feel the need to particularly, before school starts.

    4. Communicate your child’s habits

    If a questionnaire on your child’s habits is not available,
    make sure you communicate this to the school administration or the secretariat
    and his teacher. Include his eating
    habits, likes and dislikes, fears and most of all his health history
    (allergies, vaccinations etc.)

    5. Sports

    Doing sports is a healthy way of letting off steam and it is
    good for keeping in shape. Encourage
    your child to take up sports by discussing what type of sports activities
    interest him before enrolling him. More often than not, parents tend to enroll
    their children in activities they think the children should take part in. However, it is advisable to let the children
    choose which sports they would like to do never mind if your son decides to do ballet
    and your daughter decides to play rugby!

    6. After-school activities

    Find out what the school has to offer regarding after-school activities. These could range from art and crafts, drama,
    learning to play a musical instrument or learning a new language. It is always helpful to know that your child
    can stay on after school if you are not able to pick

    him up. Besides, participating in these activities will also
    help him to be fully integrated in school life and make new friends. It also helps to build a more open confident
    and sociable character.

    7. School Calendar

    Make sure you have a copy of the school calendar noting down
    important dates especially holidays. Keep
    a copy somewhere visible in the house (on a notice board in the kitchen for

    example) for everyone to see especially in your absence. This should help you plan to organise
    yourself better so that the appropriate arrangements concerning your child can
    be made.

    8. Mixed Feelings

    On the first day of school, we often feel excited and worried
    at the same time. It is important to
    note that for you and for your child, it is normal to have mixed feelings. You are embarking on a long journey together
    which you are not too sure about.
    Therefore, it is only normal that you both experience these conflicting
    emotions. For the younger ones, make
    sure your child has a change of clothes which should all be discreetly labeled
    with his full name. A few days before
    school it is helpful to check on the food items allowed at snack time (fruits,
    yogurt, sandwiches or cakes and biscuits). Patience and positive thinking will help you

    through this period. Do
    not hesitate do discuss your child’s feelings as often as possible during this time.

    9. Letting go

    The need to guide and protect your child is put to the test during
    the first days of school. However, it is
    important to learn as parents to let go and trust in the competency of the
    people who look after your children. Remember that your child is in capable
    hands. Try not to communicate any
    negative feelings or thoughts to your child. A more settled child will find it

    much easier to integrate the class and fully participate in
    the activities than a nervous and agitated child. Your calm and trusting nature will influence
    the way he feels.

    10. Separation

    It is through separation that children learn to be autonomous
    and exist as individuals. Therefore, be
    proud that your children can survive during the day without you. Quantifying time i.e. explaining what goes on
    at different times of day helps the child to be more aware of what to expect
    therefore less anxious. For pre-schoolers, explain what “mummy and daddy
    pick-up time” means and when it takes place.
    It is important to send out positive signals at all times. Remember to be firm but gentle when you drop your
    child off at school and maintain the same composure. For the younger ones, you can keep some fruit
    or a bottle of water in the car. It is
    sometimes comforting for them to have something to nibble on or drink on their
    way home from school.

    11. Saying good bye

    Find out about the rules in school concerning dropping off
    your child. If you feel he has problems
    settling in and you have time, you ask permission from his class teacher and
    spend a few minutes with him in class if the teacher is comfortable with you doing
    so. This is very reassuring especially for children starting pre-school.

    12. Expectations at school

    Talk to your child about what they will see and hear in school. This will make them feel less nervous and
    approach the school year with more assurance.
    Ask questions to find out what they do not know or understand about
    school or school life. Questions could
    range from the school environment to school activities. It is also very important to speak about rules
    and regulations and their sanctions.
    This is because school and home are two very different worlds. Nevertheless, all the rules and regulations
    on both sides need to be obeyed.

    13. Maintain Rituals

    Avoid stress by preparing for school the night before. Go through the rituals with your children so
    that should you have to be absent they can do it themselves or guide whoever
    will take care of them in the right way.
    This you can do by picking out their clothes, sports attire, books,
    etc. Your child can also help you to
    prepare their lunch in the morning. Doing

    activities together makes things seem and feel more natural
    and less stressful for both of you.

    14. School Routine

    Talk to your child about school routine. Discuss classroom activities, sports period
    as well as break and nap times with your child.
    Some schools request that each child keep a copy book in his bag which
    is used for keeping traces of important events that take place in school and

    at home. The
    information in it is shared with the class and the parents. In addition, there is also a correspondence
    book for exchange notes between school and home. There are lots of big,
    colourful books you could borrow from your local library on the subject that
    you can read with your child, before school begins. Your librarian will be happy to help you
    choose the right books if you have any problems finding the right ones.

    15. Structure

    Contrary to what we may think, children need structure in their
    lives. They find comfort in daily
    routines so it is important to ensure that certain rituals and patterns take
    place at the same time. This includes bedtimes,
    mealtimes or times they wake up in the morning.
    You could do a time-table or calendar that you can keep at home
    (something visual) so your child knows when he has school and when he is on

    16. Continuing encouragement

    Be gentle but firm when your child shows reluctance about
    anything during the successive days.
    Your continuing encouragement and positive outlook should help him
    overcome the anxiety. Ask him questions
    each day about school and be attentive to the answers you are given. Do not dwell too much on pestering him with
    questions everyday. Give him time to
    take it all in. Tell him about your
    first day in school and how you felt. If he learns that you felt the same way
    he did then things will appear more natural to him. It is also important to make

    a joke about some of it.
    Get him to laugh with you about some of the aspects that you found
    amusing when you were a kid.

    17. Work as a team

    Work as a team with your child’s teacher. Try not to contest too often when he/she
    makes propositions. Do not be seen as an
    opponent. Your aim is that your child
    spends a good fruitful and enjoyable time in school and your ultimate goal is
    that he succeeds in his studies.
    Therefore, his teacher should be your team mate! Stress on adhering to class rules and school
    regulations. When class rules are
    obeyed, it makes the teaching process easier and the class environment a more
    enjoyable one to be in for the pupils or student.

    18. Reading

    Reading is fun. Try to develop this habit as soon as
    possible. Do not focus too much on reading materials concerning the school
    syllabus because after treating this at home he might become bored in class. Leave this to the teacher that is what he is
    there for. A bored child tends to find
    other sources of entertainment in class that might disrupt the whole group. However, encourage your child by setting an
    example: read a book that you can both select from the school library and be
    available to answer questions and discuss what he or she is learning at
    school. As well as this, let the child
    know what pleasure can be derived from

    reading – a pleasure that lasts a lifetime. Cultivate this habit till your child can
    learn to read on his own. It not only
    broadens his knowledge it also improves his literacy skills.

    19. Maintain Communication

    If you are not given a copy book by the school, buy one and put
    it in your child’s school bag and let him know that it is for corresponding
    with his teacher and vice versa concerning matters that relate to your child
    and school. Any questions, queries or
    comments for the class teacher should be written in it.

    20. Attend Meetings

    If possible, attend all parent/teacher meetings or have a
    close family member or friend replace you. If you are are unfortunately unable to attend
    due to illness or some emergency,

    prepare a list of questions before hand. This is one of the opportunities you have to
    find out what is going on at school and it also gives you the chance to gather
    information about future school plans, events and staff changes.

    21. Share and welcome suggestions from other

    You will be amazed how parent networking can work for
    you. From babysitting suggestions to the
    best paediatrician
    and after school
    activities, the list is endless. Try to have two or three contact numbers that
    you can always count on. Other parents
    have information that

    will definitely interest you.
    Make friends and talk to other parents.
    Remember: a problem shared is a problem halved!

    22. Have fun together

    Limit TV time when you are indoors and play with your
    child. You could do anything from reading,
    playing board games, drawing, painting, making a scrap book together or bathing
    the dog. If it is a fine day, you could
    go to the park, the zoo or simply go for walks.
    You could also turn shopping into fun time together. Children learn best and quicker through play
    so look for opportunities where you can involve your child in the learning
    process. In short, get involved in your
    child’s life. Help develop creative

    23. Respecting differences

    Teach your child to respect differences and let him know that
    he will be meeting and spending time with children who do not look like him nor
    are like him. There are lots of books on
    citizenship for children that your local librarian can help you choose if you
    have difficulties in talking about this subject.

    24. Your child and learning

    Help your child learn better and love learning by following up
    on all his school work and activities.
    Maintain a parent-teacher partnership so that you are always abreast on
    what is

    taught and will be taught at school. This could range from literacy skills to
    songs and games. Go over things that
    have been taught at school with your children.
    Answer questions or help your child to find out the answers to his
    questions. If you are curious, your
    child will also cultivate a curious mind.
    Be interested in your child’s
    school life.

    25. Encourage your child

    Let your child know how proud of him you are and how he has matured
    since he started school. Do not point
    out only his faults but also congratulate him on every accomplishment. Always try to strike a healthy balance in the
    messages you convey to your child and make time for him.

  2. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    Flippin 'eck!! Did you confuse this for Mumsnet?
    We are teachers, professionals who have seen hundreds of children successfully through our doors. We have also counselled parents with this terrible seperation syndrome you describe and everything turns out ok.
    Why have you posted this on here?
  3. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Two and a half??? Nappy bag?? No wonder he was traumatised. We don't insist on children being in school at 2 1/2 in this country (exactly double that age, in fact). Why on Earth did you send him to school at that age? What were you expecting? What country was this?
    And why have you posted this on here??
  4. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Good Lord! I'm no psychologist, but this might be the very reason your son was feeling anxious. Pull yourself together - you're an adult.
  5. cinnamonsquare

    cinnamonsquare Occasional commenter

    My thoughts exactly! Especially the nappy bag. I would expect children to be toilet trained in time for nursery, never mind school.

    And going to school at 2 1/2? I thought we were premature in the UK at 5 years old!
  6. I think this is a joke.
    Yes, you were doing something wrong. Why would a two and a half year old still have a feeding bottle? Isn't that the best way to ensure speech difficulties? My two chucked away their bottles and started using cups and beakers at 1, as the health visitor recommended.
    Why post on a primary teaching forum? I don't care what you think about my children and the way I should get them ready for school. I must admit, I only read the first couple of paragraphs as I got bored, but my eldest skipped in through the door on her first day, I gave her a kiss and said goodbye then carried on with the day. I didn't stand at the bl**dy window snivelling and trying to get her, or anyone else's attention.
    It's ridiculous.
  7. Why have you waited for 2 months to post this complete and utter b@ll@cks?
  8. cinnamonsquare

    cinnamonsquare Occasional commenter

    I think it may have taken 2 months to write this tome of tripe.
  9. Milgod

    Milgod Established commenter

    I liked it. A good summary of what it takes to be a good parent. Well done.
  10. Ha! Summary! Like it.

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