You’d heard your preschooler might cry for days, maybe even weeks on starting kindergarten, but you didn’t imagine that she’d be crying months after school has started. Yet this is completely normal, assures Jacqueline Chung, senior principal at St James’ Church Kindergarten.
“It’s a sign of how attached the child is to the parent, which is not a bad thing,” she explains. Different children have different personalities, and some just take longer than others to adjust. Chung notes, “Perhaps, it can signal to the parent that when it comes to changes in life, your child might take just that little bit longer to adapt.”
What the child needs, at this point, is the adult’s ― whether it’s the parent’s or educator’s ― understanding and reassurance. Chung advises parents not to make the child feel bad, or over-talk the situation, particularly if your little one is below age 3.
“In fact, most of the children only cry at the point of separation. If you hear from the teacher that your child is happily engaged after that, there’s nothing to worry about,” Chung says. She recommends a routine of walking in happily, distracting the child with the happy things going on in the school, popping the child into class, then saying goodbye after telling her that you’ll see her later. “Don’t linger and don’t promise 101 things that you won’t be able to deliver,” she advises.
Try these tips to ease the process for junior…
- Ensure your child gets enough sleep Poor sleep may lead to mood swings and even learning difficulties. Introduce a consistent bedtime routine that gives her at least 10 to 11 hours of nighttime sleep. Also, make sure she has enough time to enjoy a good breakfast before school.
- Be punctual This way, you won’t be rushing her to class, nor is she forced to catch up on what the class is doing, explains preschool teacher Tracey Lim.
- Offer rewards It’s perfectly fine to offer junior a little motivation. Jacintha Lee, mum to Gabriel, 3, gave him a sticker for every day he showed he was a “brave boy”. She also promised a small treat ― like a toy or his favourite snack ― if he could collect 10 stickers. She laughs, “By the time he got his first treat, he was already beginning to enjoy school, so I could ditch the reward system.”
- Praise lavishly Be generous with compliments and kind words. If she puts on her uniform easily, tell her how great she looks. At the end of the day, let her know she is doing a fine job in school.
- Offer something familiar A favourite toy or a comfort object can prevent junior from feeling “lonely” while she’s in class.
- Use a mum-mento Pass your sweetie a little bracelet of yours, or a hankie. Explain that you want her to look after it for you and to return it to you at the end of the day. This gives her something to focus on when you make the drop-off, plus, it will remind her of you through the day.
- Expect “off” days Even if your little one seems to have adapted well to school, there might be days she might just want to, well, be with you. It could happen after a long school break or even the weekend. Don’t be surprised, nor put her down for it ― this shows she enjoys spending time with you and wishes she could do it again. After telling her cheerfully to have fun in school and that you’ll see her later, give her a kiss and make a quick exit. She should settle soon after.