Sunday, 16 August 2020

How to Ease the Transition from Home to Kindergarten

I'm writing this update from the point of view of a parent. When I first wrote this article, I was just a teacher. I am mostly putting these things down, because I need to visualize them and work on them...still. Hearing my kid crying and saying "nu fric─â, mama-i aici" (not scared, mummy's here), just breaks my heart. And I never thought it would be so tough on me, because I know how easy they calm down once they can't see their parents.

But here are some things we've been doing to help with this important transition:
- we talked to the teacher and made sure that we are on the same page about the adaptation period. We started with short days (the first day she stayed between 9 and 11, she had playtime with the kids, then she was picked up before lunch. The next days, she stayed for lunch, then on the fourth day she took the nap there.)
- we visited the kindergarten premises. No kids were there, but she familiarized herself with the place and the toys. This is not possible for everyone, I know - we were lucky to be able to do that, because I work there and had to prepare the classroom before the summer holiday ended).
- we met the kids in her group at the park, before the summer holiday started
- we role-played with soft toys and we read books about daily routines (swipe for her favourite)
- we always talk about the routine and how her day went before she goes to bed
- we have a pretty good routine, but I know that we were lucky in this respect too. My partner works from home and he has a flexible schedule, so we can take turns in picking her up. No matter what my shifts are, we try to take her there around the same time (so she gets to start the day the same way, and leave during the same daily routine - she knows that after she has had snack, she is picked up).
- when dropping her off, we inform her when and who will pick her up
- we try to keep a daily routine at home, too - after she has snack at daycare, we go play in a park or take a walk, then go home to eat, play, take a bath, while reading books, sleep

Other, more general things that might help you and your child with this important transition:
- having realistic expectations about the first day of kindergarten: they probably won't eat/sleep well, and won't really be engaged in activities, as they'll have something else on their mind. It's important that they take their time and that they're not rushed to adapt. They will eventually get there!
- talking well in advance about this experience: be truthful about it. Rather than saying "everything will be great, you're going to have a blast", explain what will actually happen: " it might be tough at first without us there. There will be X there (kindergarten teacher) to help you through. First, you will do..." - Talk about the routine at daycare and go through it step-by-step. Don't try to say how great it will be - think about how you'd feel if you were upset about a big change and your partner, instead of empathising with you, would say "you should look at the bright side"
- doing some role-play: the doll is going to kindergarten, your child is the parent
- having confidence in our decision: we should be happy with the kindergarten we chose, the environment, and the teacher, and our child will feel that too
- having confidence and trusting that our child is ready for this transition - Sometimes life happens and we don't have another choice but to put our child in daycare, but try to make peace with the idea
- validating their emotions - kids can be very sensitive about such transitions, and it's perfectly understandable - they are starting a new life, surrounded by new adults, lots of kids, and no parents for half a day. They are entitled to have these feelings, and we should let them express them (redirecting calmly, but firmly, if they are hurting themselves or others)

I will be writing a post about our daily routine in the upcoming weeks. If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment.

I hope you'll have a smooth transition!

I hope you'll have a smooth transition! 

Enjoy your Sunday,


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