Is your child excited about going back after having been away from the program for a long time? Is the child somewhat fearful? Is the child wondering if the people will remember her, if her friends will be there, if her teacher/s will be the same, if they will still like her? All of these may or may not be going around in the child’s head. The best way to know is to ask. Let’s think about going back to the program. Do you wonder about anything? You will probably NOT know the answers to most of the questions. This is okay. Just say I don’t know. What can we do to find out? Maybe you can ask some of the questions before the starting day. Maybe not, and maybe you will all just have to find out. As long as you approach it as an adventure, your child will get some reassurance from your attitude. Just be careful not to tell the child that everything will be wonderful. Maybe it will, but if it isn’t, you can create trust issues.
This week, we’ve changed the clocks and everybody’s body clock will take about a week to get used to the new time. Adults and children find this week difficult. On top of this, we have an emotional election going on and most adults are concerned, whatever their political leanings. We are also in a pandemic where the daily count of confirmed cases is growing daily. In most states, children cannot play freely with their friends or see their grandparents. In the north, the weather has changed nearly overnight from summery weather to wintery weather, requiring jackets, hats, and in many cases, gloves as well. All this is a lot for everyone to absorb at once. Every year, the number of all sorts of accidents is higher the week the clocks are changed. If you drive, please be super careful because some of the other drivers are having body clock issues as well.
If you are involved in education, please do not give any major exams, teach anything difficult to understand, or expect papers to be in on time this week. If you’ve already scheduled some of these things, try to modify it out of respect for the students.
The younger the child, the more difficult to adjust to the time change. Young children who are having behavioral issues and who have begun to make progress may lose some of that progress this week. Do not think your attempts at improvement are worthless. Take a deep breath, realize they are having a tough time, and ease up for a few days. These children need extra support right now.
When I ran early childhood programs, I tried to modify the meal and rest times during the week of clock changes. On Monday, I tried to make the mealtime about 45 minutes off of the official time, gradually getting towards official time by Friday. In the Fall, they needed less nap time, but were crankier as it approached the end of the day. I changed the daily schedule to allow for more outdoor time if possible, more stories, more singing, and if some of the children spontaneously fell asleep at weird times, I encouraged staff to let them sleep.
Every time the clocks are changed, some people find it harder than others to get their body clocks reset. Cut them some slack. There are things that you find hard that others find easy. This will always be true. It’s not personal. It just is. Please, out of respect, no deadlines this week.
Also, if you are in a relationship, be mindful of your own and the other person’s need for time to adjust to the time change. If a major argument starts to happen, try to back off. Try to take some slow, deep breaths and just address it next week. If you think it will help, show that person this article.
In case you wondering how I’m doing with the change, I’m finished writing this at 6:24 AM, Standard Time. Wishing you an easy time change.
When my children were small and medium sized, I was too often home with them during bouts of childhood illnesses. “Boring” was not a word I liked to hear. So I tried all sorts of silly things to keep them interested. One of their favorites was living room picnics. I took a real tablecloth and brought food to the living room to have a picnic lunch together on the floor. The children would help choose the foods, and as long as the whole day’s foods were healthy, I didn’t care if one meal was out of balance. We found that if it were more often than once a week, it was too much. And it’s a bonus if it’s a rainy day. Try it!
Now that nearly all children are at home, there are hundreds of pages of worksheets for parents to download. Many are for teachers to assign. They do keep the kids busy for a while and it looks like the kids are learning something. But most of the time spent on these sheets, by adults up and downloading them and by children doing them, is WASTED time.
As I’ve said before, I’ve spent lots of time cooped up at home with my kids. With the exception of a few specific assignments sent by teachers, they spent nearly NO TIME on school work. While my kids were home, their classmates were in school, so there was catch-up when they got back. But now, all the kids are out. Of course, there will be stuff teachers will have to go back over when school opens again. But there will be less of a gap.
This is the time to BOND, to make memories, to show love, to encourage each child to explore her/his own interests and learn something new to share with the rest of the family. Skills that will help the family are wonderful – are they old enough to learn to cook? Even the youngest can tear up lettuce leaves to help make a salad. They can learn to wash dishes (yes, by hand). Maria Montessori had 3s and 4s washing their own plates and utensils. They can dry and put utensils away, sort and fold laundry, and do lots more around the house.
If you are in a house with a yard, planting is wonderful together. Moving small rocks to make a flower growing area and all sorts of re-arrangement of the garden is productive and real work. The vocabulary, physical science, math of it all are great additions to their knowledge.
We live in an apartment – my husband spent much of today moving plants from one planter to another – things he rooted on the windowsill are now in pots. This is real work, satisfying work, and work that makes our world a little nicer.
PLEASE, no worksheets!!!
When my 4 kids were young, there were weeks at a time when we were stuck in the house together because of various illnesses including chicken pox (What a horrid winter!) There was no internet then, and appropriate TV was very limited. So I learned new skills with the kids. Everyone who was up to it had something to do. We learned to make noodles on the hand-held pasta maker. Everyone took turns with the wheel. We learned to bake cookies, cakes, and other things. There was plenty of reading and math in the recipes, especially in making half, a third, or double the amount.
The flour was everywhere. It was so much more work than just opening a box of pasta or cookies, or the like. But when they were part of the process, they were cooperative, and they LOVED the outcome.
I also did a lot of reading aloud, even to the upper elementary kids. Sometimes, we would take turns reading a page at a time to the younger ones.
Of course, I was happy when they went back to school, but those days were, for the most part, good days. There is always some skill that can be learned or taught together. Some way for everyone to be involved in a physical task. We will make it through these times. We will.
Sooner or later every child who isn’t homeschooled has to start school. Many parents are more anxious than the child. There are many books for young children about starting school.
Some preschools allow parents to stay for a while (hours, days, weeks) and some don’t.
For many years, I directed preschools. The first day was short – usually about an hour. A parent was required to accompany the child. (In the few instances where it could not happen, someone close to the child came.) During that time, the teacher and the class left the room for a few minutes and the parents stayed. The children were told to tell the parents that they (the parents ) would be safe, and that the children would be back soon. Before re-entering the room, the children were told that when they came into the room, they would let the parents know that they (the children) said they would be back and they ARE back. This role reversal from what is typical helped many children with the transition.
I also advised parents to practice leaving and coming back, even if into another room in the house.
A large part of separation problems starting school is related to the young child’s understanding of object permanence. This is the notion that things are the same when we can see them and when we can’t see them. It’s a big reason that peek-a-boo is an important game for little ones. If you are there and I can’t see you, are you going to be there again when I open my hands and look again?
A related idea is relatives who leave and come back regularly. A parent who goes to work daily. An older sibling who leaves to go to school and comes back. Most parents take these things for granted. Just mentioning the idea starting a few months before school starts will help get the pattern recognized. The little one can be invited to welcome the working parent home, the school child home. Saying he/she goes to work and comes home helps get the idea across.
If the child ever goes somewhere with another parent or relative, welcoming the child back and saying “You went to ___ and you came back! I’m glad you’re home” can help as well.
I will always remember my oldest child’s first day of preschool. The families were invited in for a few minutes, the children started playing, and the parents were asked to leave. My daughter said, “Okay, Mommy, bye, see you later!” and I left.
Some of the other mommies left the room and left the building crying, and some, whose children were not their first, hurried off. I stood in the hallway a few minutes, having a good cry. I peeked in the window and saw her smiling. So I gathered myself together and left, knowing my child was in good hands.
Had dinner last night with one of her two married children. How can this be? She only started nursery school yesterday, didn’t she?