Getting children ‘school- ready’ is of paramount importance. This is especially true in today’s day and age when children are essentially used to only one caregiver during their infancy and toddlerhood. This is primarily because of smaller, nuclear families unlike the big joint family setting that used to exist earlier. Also, today children step into the preschool scenario sooner. Hence, care must be taken so that children have a pleasant experience of going to school, rather than see it as a kind of punishment being doled out.
What is the meaning of being ‘school ready’?
In order to be school ready, a child must be socially, emotionally and cognitively prepared for going to school, even to pre-school. Being school-ready means that the child feels minimum anxiety,and the anxiety goes away after a few days. It also means that a child is able to ‘cope’ or is developmentally ready for going to school. This happens when the child is put in school at the right age as prescribed. Some schools may advise the parent to put the child sooner or at a higher grade, but only the parent can be the best judge.
Role of parents in making the child school ready-
Parents play a crucial role in making the child school ready. The kind of attitude the parents carry throughout the process of looking for schools and admission procedures, will impact the child’s attitude towards this new phase of life. If the parents feel stressed about the school admissions, feel unnecessarily competitive or feel burdened about the rising expenses, the same feeling will percolate to the child. Whereas, parents who are relaxed, speak positively about the school, enjoy the process of seeing the child go to school, their children will feel less anxious.
The parent or caregiver must also try to ensure that the child is socially ready for school. This means that the child like spending time with children of the same age, is able to communicate in some way or the other felling such as happiness, sadness, irritation etc. They must ensure that the child feels relatively comfortable around strangers to some extent.
Some ways in which parents can make the child ready for school-
- Before the school starts, build excitement about going to school. This can be done by telling the child what a fun place school is, talk about the games they can play, new toys, new friends, etc.
- Involve the child in picking his/ her new water bottle, tiffin, bag and other essentials. This will make the child look forward to taking them to school.
- Never ever speak negative about the school or the teachers in front of the child. One must be cautious even while discussing with friends or with the spouse as children pick up on negative comments and might not want to go back to school.
- While some parents want their children to be developmentally fast, do not force your child write or do any activity. Leave it for the experts at school to do it. However, ensure that you do basic activities that make the child’s senses sharp- such as make the child taste different foods, smell different kinds of things, feel different textures, play simple games with a ball, play with clay or blocks.
It is important to note that despite being positive, excited and prepared for school, children will feel a surge of separation anxiety. That is normal as they step out of the comfort of their homes for the first time. Being away from the person or persons they were familiar with, to a completely new set of faces .They may cry or not want to go to school, this may happen for a day, a week or longer depending upon the child.
This is also a difficult phase for the parent to see the child not enjoying or crying for such a long time. But the important thing to remember is to be strong and have trust in the school and the teachers. Have an open dialogue with the teachers or the school authorities who may keep you updated during the child’s settling- in period.
And last but not the least, remember that the phase will soon pass and your child will be wanting to go back to school every single day without any effort.