Children will always be anxious about starting school, this will never change. And their anxiety is well justified, hence, parents and teachers together must work in order to help the children feel safer.
Here is what they may try.
Parents can always sit with the children and talk to them about what is stressing them about starting kindergarten? Why are they screaming? What are they so scared of?
Dismissing a child’s feelings or worries will not help the parents, rather the child will suffer internally and develop more anxiety. Letting the kids explain their thoughts and fears (however much they can) is a major part of dealing with the issue. Telling them that what they are feeling is absolutely valid and okay to feel, but going to school is a huge part of life as they transition to being a bigger kid.
Immediately making a kid stop crying is not a solution to everything, let them cry and express themselves. After they are calm, reassure them that you will be there for them emotionally and present in person if they need you to come and get them.
Role-playing can be a good way to help kids learn how to make new friends. They can practice with parents how to start a conversation or simply what they should do in the class. This way the parents may also make sure their children behave well in the class by letting them practice.
Child psychologists say that children relate to storybook characters a lot; it is a good way to read them a story about a kid starting a new school. It could also help them articulate what they’re feeling since the stories can perfectly depict the child’s worries and fears about school.
First few days or even weeks is more crucial, do not just say goodbye and leave, let them know that you will be there waiting outside for them. Definitely don’t try to sneak away because this would increase your child’s anxiety.
Children may bring their favourite toy or security article from home that makes them feel safer. If a child can see and hold their toy when they feel insecure, this helps them become comfortable quickly and may improve confidence.
Having play dates with other kids before starting school is a good idea. Parents may ask the teachers about other new kindergarteners and set up some playdates before the children start school. This way they may already have a friend and can rely on each other.
Not agreeing with helicopter parenting here by asking the teachers about the child’s progress regularly is a good idea. Are they slowly making new friends? Or are they finding it hard to speak up? Is your child experiencing anxiety? Parents much know all these to have a regular knowledge of what is happening in a kid’s life.
Keep in mind:
1. Separation anxiety may be handled better if the parents and teachers collaborate on the matter and work together. Education on the topic of separation anxiety is important for both parents and teachers. Teamwork regarding interventions and strategies, training to increase a child’s independence and sense of competence will help the child in the long run. Teachers may counsel the children to build self-esteem and sense of adequacy, give them positive feedback and allow opportunities to meet and celebrate small successes.
2. Since the pandemic has been a well-known fact even amongst children, talking to them about disasters should be normalised. The best way to always protect a child is not by keeping them out of the discussion, sometimes talking to them is what helps them better. Talking to them about disaster management, the importance of precautions and ways of solving a large scale problem should help bring their minds at some peace.
3. Children identify parents as the safe adults to tell all their problems to. For the school, they need to identify a safe adult as well. Parents and teachers together should sit with the kids to let them know that is it okay for them to trust their teacher. This way they get the idea that trusting only those whom their parents introduce to them is right and they would be comfortable to come to their teacher with their problems.
It definitely takes a village to raise a child and in the case of any pre-school, this village is certainly led by parents and educators who're to work together!