Starting school for the first time is a big step, both for parents and children but there is some level of stress involved with it too
I am aware that considerable time has passed since the new school year. Still some mothers are putting on a brave face while sending their children off to school. For them, it’s a big thing to beat their fears and send their children to school for the first time. Yes, children starting school for the first time is a big step, both for the parents and the children. Even though it’s just taking your child into kindergarten or preschool, there is always some level of stress involved, for both parents and children. It is but natural for parents to have a whole range of new feelings of uncertainty, along with excitement, just thinking the magnanimity of the first step towards their child growing up to face the world.
Along with it is the sense of loss, thinking that their children are moving away from them and their influence.
Just the sight of them in school uniform, looking cute and fresh and enthusiastic, is enough to bring tears to your eyes. You still remember the first day of school, when your child refused to leave home. Though it’s only kindergarten, the fear that something bad or unpleasant might happen bothers the parents. After all, their child will be away from them for the whole day. Experiencing new exposure to many different kinds of interactions, with many different people could be both awesome and wonderful. It is natural for parents to be worried, because now the child will spend more of his/her waking hours with others, away from their care. This is their first step on the long road of formal education. Parents fail to understand that this is inevitable part of their child’s life, but they do understand that their job is to provide protection to their children, not shield them. Despite this, parents still try and become their children’s shield, because for them the children are still small!
Yes, you want to make it easier for both of you and your child. I am pretty sure that you have read a lot on the internet about handling this situation and also got tips. I am pretty sure that you did have several rounds of talks with your child before sending him/her to school. Several times you also expressed your love for your children and hugged them and assured that it’s ok to go to school. This works both ways. While you are assuring your child, you are also assuring yourself in a way. You are worried that your child will not adjust to going to school, being in a strange new place and miss being at home.
Along with it, you are also worried that your child will have separation anxiety. At the same time you are worried that you will lose your composure and break down, when it’s time for your child to go to school. You worry that your child will not make friends and enjoy school. After all this you are further worried that your child will not be able to cooperate with the teacher and create troubles in the class. You go a little further and think that your child is too small to learn what s/he is taught in class. You worry too much.
Then again, these are natural symptoms of an overprotective parent. You sometimes overlook the fact that you did visit the school with your child, prior to sending him/her to school. You checked out the school premises and made sure that it is child-friendly and safe and has enough space for your child to run around and get involved in the various outdoor activities. You even introduced the teachers to your child and talked about their teaching modality and their expectations from your child. Most likely your child liked the school and the class teacher. So that part is not valid. So far as learning is concerned, they do not do lot of learning and that too in a playful mode. So parents need not worry about that either. If you are worried about homework, you can request the teacher to not give any homework at all.
I am sure you watched them get ready for school, fix their bags, and get a good night’s rest before going to school. You showed them books that had pictures of children going to school. You prepared your child well for school. But what about you?
Have you prepared yourself? I am sure you did and still you waited anxiously for hours for your child to come home and share their day with you. Yes, I can see a few smiles and yes, that sounds familiar too, right? So, as soon as your child comes home from school, you ask, ‘how was your day?’ to quench your curiosity but your child responds in monosyllabic ‘fine.’ You are saying to yourself, ‘it’s their first day at school, they are supposed to say more than that’. The second day you ask the same question and end up with something similar. Now you wonder, ‘is there something wrong with my child?’
Well, there is nothing wrong. It’s just that type of questions that you are putting forth is not right and the timing is wrong too. You did not realize such questions are response killers and that your child is tired and exhausted with the school activities and new routine. Far from a conversation starter, it’s overwhelmingly open-ended, completely boring and uninspiring. Don’t be shocked. You should have judged the timing of your questions and also the type of questions. Your questions should stimulate your child into conversation, relive the fun times in school and get all excited about sharing their experience with you. You should have waited till your child relaxed a bit and is ready to talk to you. You should have started with questions like: What did they give you for lunch? Did something funny happen in the class? Or even questions that make your child comfortable like: What was the funny thing that happened in your class? Or did your teacher smile at someone and why? The main idea is for you to create a situation where your child feels the need to share experiences with you. Now there is a catch to this one.
Once you start this process of sharing, you cannot get out of it later when your children grow up and demand your time for conversations.
Finally, you need to realize that you cannot turn on and turn off your attention just because you are busy or are no longer interested in your child’s affairs. This is a trend setting time. Once you commit to your child, it’s an ongoing relation. Your child comes first, so you have to find time, even when you are busy. There are no excuses.
Remember this is a commitment you made to yourself when you decided to have a child.
So feel good that your child started sharing with you at this age. Now that is not too much to ask of you, right?
The author is an educationist and writer of several children’s books