It’s been two weeks since Xxm began his first ever full day preschool in a childcare centre. Filled with concerns on how soon he can adapt to 8 hours separation (he had only been in school 2hr thus far) from family, I mentally psych myself up for battle mode this entire month to positively tackle his tantrums. Much to my surprise, he adapted quicker than I had expected. Although he wasn’t bouncing and laughing into preschool each morning, he “pushed” me away at the entrance, fought back his tears and bravely faced the whole new world himself. I was bowled over by the courage and determination he had displayed and felt tremendous pride for my boy.
Here are my strategies for assimilating into childcare:
Step 1: Understanding your child & Managing Expectations
Xxm is pretty much an introvert like myself. We don’t take to social occasions very well. When Xxm meets someone new for the first time, he snuggles up behind me and refuses to acknowledge the person. Moreover Xxm is more emotionally attached to his primary caregivers i. e. my Mil, Meow and myself and has shown to thrive more whenever a routine or habit is established.
Hence the prospect of introducing him to new faces, environment and an entirely different manner to spend his time, coupled with the absence of his security net, I imagined an intense moment for him. I gave myself an entire month to help him cope with this new transition. I ensured I was readily available for at least the first three days (anyway, that’s the amount of time the centre was allowing me to enter its premises at free will). I have heard that in worst case scenarios, it might take up to 6 months before a child feels comfortable being away from his parent. I made a mental note to take things in my stride and let him take however long he needs.
Step 2: Preparing for the big day
It so happened that he had a graduation ceremony at his previous playgroup two weeks prior to starting his new childcare. I took the opportunity to share with him that his previous playgroup teacher won’t be teaching him anymore as she only teaches small children who are two years old like his younger brother. Now that he is three, he needs to go to big school. I reiterated this concept many times. I addressed his queries why his previous teacher was not able to continue teaching him each time and reassured him there is going to be another new teacher who is equally nice as well (I hope so ). As I was the one fetching him to childcare, I enticed him with how he was going to go to school with mummy each day, in mummy’s car – a privilege only he was entitled to because he is a big boy now. I knew instinctively this was my ultimate trump card as he was doing something unique and special with mummy. And I try to make it so for him.
His new teacher was introduced to me via email. I took the opportunity to share with her his habits and some dos and don’ts:
Foodstuff he enjoy and to be avoided
Afternoon naps timing and duration
Snacking after naps
Prone to insect bites
I also beseeched the teacher to be extra sensitive towards him and myself (as a concerned mum) as it was our first experience in full day childcare. I know it becomes more difficult as a child gets older. I was quite thankful Xxm was the only new kid on the block. The rest of the children have been there since they were toddlers so it was great to have the attention on Xxm.
Where possible, bring your kiddo to view the premises and teachers before the actual day. Basically, acquaint them with the idea and the real thing. However, I did not have the luxury of time to execute this. I did showed him the exterior of the childcare centre a few months back but I doubt he remembered. Hence, I could only show him pictures of school from the brochures I received and entice him with all the fun activities he was going to enjoy there. When I received his uniform, I related it to the pictures of the children in the brochure and stressed that it’s only when he dons the uniform that he gets to enjoy the privilege ride with Mummy to work. My little Mummy’s boy seems to buy into this idea. o(^^o) (o^^)o
We slowly worked up his anticipation and excitement. I also got him involved in preparing his schoolbag two days before. I mentioned to him where all his individual belongings are kept. I allow him to make simple decisions to gain proprietary over the situation. For example, I let him decide which pillow he wanted to bring to school. Be smart, do not give your child options that you do not want. Two choices is sufficient at this stage. Xxm delights in his choice very much.
That is pretty much how I geared him up for the big day. Stay tuned for Part 2: The First Day of School!