First Day Preparations - Early Education
I am grateful your family is joining our CBA family. We truly embrace and live out our mission statement, “partnering with parents to inspire world changers through Christ-centered, intercultural, language-immersion education.” In God’s goodness and wisdom, you are your child’s primary educator and we are grateful to come alongside you and help form children who are change agents in this world instead of just going with the cultural flow.
The first day of school is an exciting milestone in your child’s life. Your child is embarking on a journey that will lead them and you on many roads of discovery and learning.
As wonderful as this new experience will be, it can also be quite stressful for your young child. New situations and change can, at times, be unsettling for all of us. For many children, this may be their first experience of separation from parents or caregivers at home. It is common for even the most outgoing child to be anxious the first day of school.
Our staff is excited to partner with you in support and assistance throughout this time of transition, making your child’s first school days happy days.
I would like to share some recommendations as you prepare your future world changers for success at CBA.
Children love routine. Routine is crucial for developing relationships and speech, both of which are crucial early in life. By starting school, you will be changing routines. This disruption will probably be difficult for 1-2 weeks. Before school starts, begin finding opportunities to leave your children with someone safe (grandparents, church Sunday School, etc.) even for 30 minutes. They will learn that you will always return, and that they can trust who is taking care of them. While learning to trust is hard, it is paramount at this stage in their life.
Start talking to them about CBA! Prepare your child for the new school experience by explaining what to expect. Answer all questions directly and honestly. Convey a positive attitude. Young children are aware of your feelings. Your enthusiasm will assure the child that school will be a fun and exciting place.
Establish a routine involving both the night before a school day as well as morning preparation. Rituals and routines will add predictability and are comforting in unfamiliar situations.
Clearly state to your child where you will be and when you will return. It may be helpful to discuss what will happen when you are reunited.
Maintain a clear good-bye routine. This may include warning the child you are leaving in 1 minute, a kiss and hug, or a wave from the window. Once you tell your child you are leaving, it is important to follow through. Extending the good-bye with “ok just one more kiss, and then I really have to go” tends to heighten anxiety rather than relieve it. Avoid sneaking out as this seems to encourage children to become less trusting and makes the second day of school even harder.
Set them up for success. Provide them a great breakfast before school, and send in a healthy and tasty snack. Dress your child in clothes that allow him/her to run around and even get dirty (e.g. closed-toe shoes).
Keep routines – even during summer – including bed time! Making sure your child is well-rested sets them up for success.
Create routines of exercise. Create a routine of early morning exercise, especially if your child has a lot of energy. One of my family’s best gifts to our teachers is exercising my boy before school. It sets him up for success, which is much more enjoyable for him and his teachers. (He ran a mile this morning!)
Allow your child to learn to self-soothe. Teaching them to sleep in their own room throughout the night is crucial. Not only does this allow more rest for parents, it allows the child to be more rested and it teaches them to soothe themselves. This is one of the first skills a baby/toddler must learn in life; we have all met adults who still do not know how to self-soothe. As our children got older, we purchased an alarm clock that stays red and then turns green to indicate when they can get out of bed.
Additionally, be careful coaxing them out of tempter tantrums with bribes. They need to learn to calm themselves down. I like teaching children to “blow out the candles” on their own fingers; this technique helps them use breathing to calm themselves and they will always have this strategy with them. Sometimes parents want so badly to keep their child happy that they unintentionally make them emotionally fragile. Remember that the butterfly leaving the cocoon needs to struggle to get out. If you cut the chrysalis, the butterfly will never fly.
Build stamina. If you start an activity, make sure your child finishes it. Start with shorter lengths of time and build. I recommend a timer that allows the child to visually see how much time is left. For example, children should stay seated at dinner until you say they can get up. If you start playing with play dough, set a timer before they can change activities. This skill is crucial for students to be successful at CBA. Building stamina early on can help fight ADD later.
Be prepared for some tears. It’s a scenario played out at preschools everywhere. A child, screaming, holding on to mom or dad’s legs for dear life, refusing to even look at the classroom, much less walk into it alone. Relax…it’s normal. Kids this age thrive on familiarity so when they are placed into a new situation, it is common if they panic a little bit.
For some children, crying does not start until they see other kids doing it. It is almost like peer-pressure and you can almost see the thoughts forming in your little one’s head. “If he’s crying, then there must be something I should be upset about too.” In any case, crying children are nothing new to a preschool teacher. Trust us that they have a process in place to deal with this very situation. Follow it. In most cases, they will encourage you to leave. It will probably be the hardest thing you will have to do, and we understand that. However, it really does work. Usually the child stops crying within five minutes of the parent leaving. You will return to your child’s classroom a few hours later to find your child happy and content with a pile of artwork they cannot wait to show you. If the Early Education teacher cannot get your child to calm down, they will be in touch. Trust in their experience and know they have your child’s best interest at heart.
Limit screen time (phones, TV, video games,etc.). Sure, screens make for great babysitters while you get things done, but be careful. They have a greater impact on neurological and socioemotional development than you might think. Take heart, children can learn to ride in cars and strollers without screens.
The Bible says the parent who does not discipline their child “hates” their child. Loving discipline is indeed loving. Have a plan in place for when your child is defiant. Defiance means they understand the expectation and willfully disobey. Your plan should get at their heart and lead to repentance and a new start. And it’s ok if some days need lots of restarts!
Please know that we are here to help make the first days of school a happy transition and we look forward to an exciting and fun year!
Inspiring World Changers together,
Nathan Johnson Ed.D.