How to help your child adapt to school: general rules for parents
Only a couple of weeks left before the start of the school year! For parents of future first-graders, “Oh!” has compiled an entire encyclopedia of articles on preparing for school, including 8th grade math book, and this text is designed specifically for those who still have one or two years to prepare. Recommendations that will help your child adapt more easily to school.
So, it is decided. The child goes to first grade. It’s best to start preparing a year in advance: choose a school, get acquainted with the requirements for children, get used to regular classes. Maybe give the child a preparatory course at school to get acquainted with future classmates and the teacher, or organize independent studies at home. This is all important, it will give the child a chance to understand where he’s going and what to expect. But there are many other things no less important that will prepare the child in advance for the new stage of life and make adaptation easier. We are talking about the basic skills of independence.
Many times in psychology practice I faced situations when a healthy smart kid was so not ready to be independent that his mom or grandma had to sit at the door of the room, or even at the back desk during the whole first and second grades, accompanied the child to the bathroom, collected things together after school. Mothers and grandmothers were happy not to be there, minding their own business, but the children clung to them with a deadly grip, they were so scared.
For the process to go more smoothly, and the child and mom were ready to be apart and trust each other for a while, it is important to gradually build up independence skills, starting at least a year before school. Here’s what to do first.
Organize your workspace
At age 4-5, a child should have his own workspace where he can draw and 7th grade science, glue stickers, and model with clay. He or she can work alone or with an adult. At the end of the class, we teach him or her to put items from the workplace into their places. If there are several children in the family, each should have a separate workspace. Even if it is half of the desk, it is his/her half of the desk. The task of parents is to provide optimal lighting, the height of the table and chair according to the child’s height and not to encourage activities in the kitchen. It is normal for a preschooler to spend 15 minutes in class, take a short (5-7 minute) break, run to the kitchen, jump around a bit, and then you can study some more. Please note: gradually the time of classes at the table should increase, but you should not do it more than half an hour without a break.
Make a schedule
It’s good for your child to know how to keep track of his schedule, know the days of the week and the time. It is desirable that he should have a schedule of activities at least a year before school. It should have days of the week marked with extra activities, circles, family weekly activities and indicate the time – drawn regular or electronic clock. Indicate travel time, time to get ready before leaving home right in the schedule. This is how we teach the child to be time-sensitive and to be on time. It is desirable to make a schedule and make changes to it together with the child. You can use stickers to mark during or at the end of the day what is done and what is not done. Discuss why this happened and what can be moved to another day.
Teach how to take care of his or her appearance
The child should distinguish his or her own things from other people’s and know where they are, clean to use, dirty to put in a laundry bag. If the child goes to additional classes, it is better to prepare him a list of things with pictures and indicate there what you need to collect for classes. Attach the list to the inside of the closet. Let the child assemble the bag of things from the pictures with you. Then he’ll do it himself, and you’ll only have to check to see if it’s all assembled correctly. A little later this task will become his responsibility. Yes, he may forget something, but it’s important for him to face what happens when you don’t take something so he understands why he has to pack everything on the list. Consider that your child is ready to assemble his or her own briefcase. A list of textbooks and stationery by day of the week with pictures will also be helpful in the elementary grades. Prepare it together with your child.
Regular household chores will instill the responsibility that is needed in school: feeding and watering the pet, watering the flowers, cleaning up the table and the like. It is important that these small chores be daily. It is not necessary to add new household chores during the first grade, a new responsibility in school is enough. But familiar tasks can remain, as long as they don’t take up much time.
Teach hygiene routines.
By this time, the child should also learn a daily independent hygiene ritual: brush teeth, shower, change pajamas, use the toilet on their own, clean up after themselves in the bathroom, make their own bed in the evening and make it up in the morning.
Of course, it is worth praising your child for his or her independent behavior, for trying to do something on his or her own, for wanting to take responsibility. If possible, it is better not to finish what he can do or finish by himself. At least in front of his eyes, reminding him that he can do nothing without his mom.
Some parents tell their child about the future school with great enthusiasm, so that children begin to think that going to school is a continuous holiday. When they walk in, they get a big disappointment: School is not a holiday at all, but a lot of work, which, however, can be very interesting. Talking to your child about school, tell the truth: you can learn a lot there if you listen to the teacher, read books, meet new children, but you have to work hard, learn lessons. Going to school is a reason to be proud, an indicator that you are growing up.
For a mother, a first-grader is also a new level of motherhood and responsibility. A friend of mine, after having her third child and sending her oldest to first grade, said: “I don’t understand why they give moms maternity leave in the first year of life? He just eats and sleeps – almost nothing to do. They should give maternity leave when the child goes to first grade – horror, so much work!”
When we teach our child independence skills before school, we simultaneously teach ourselves to let him go, to trust his skills, to let him and ourselves grow up.