School Daze

I’ve got great toilet advice going on at GNM Parents. And I’m trying to write an article (for the NCT Newsletter) on helping your little ones settle into their very first school. Any advice? It seems to me that there isn’t much we parents can do: I raised my boys the same, prepared them for school the same, and they all had a different experience of their first school days.

Chas cried a bit, then got a grip. He was never a big fan of school but resigned himself to fate.

Sam spent his first month screaming blue murder whenever I dropped him off, leaving me a quivering wreck every morning. He’d cling to the car seat, the gate, the school door, and me like his life depended on it. The teacher had to PEEL him off me every morning. I’d creep back, peek in at the window and the little wretch would be playing happily with his buddies, but that didn’t help me the next screaming morning! One day I said to him “Sam, I can’t take this any more. I understand that you need to cry if you are upset, and that is fine. But dude, this every-morning drama is too much. If you DON’T cry when I drop you to school this morning, I’ll take you to KFC for lunch.” Sam’s three-year-old eyes got as round as plates, and angels sang for him. He whispered, “…chicken nuggests???” and I nodded.

That morning, he waved me goodbye and skipped merrily into school, and never cried again. Huh.

When Max MY BAAAYBEEEE! started school for the first time, I was all prepared for the tears, the creeping back, the talking it over, the extra hugs. I dropped him off the first day, steeled myself, and HE waved me cheerily goodbye and ran in to say hi to a whole new bunch of interesting people.

I bawled all the way home. Am I qualified to advise anyone on pre-school preparation? I think not!

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11 Responses to School Daze

  1. Wacky Mommy says:

    In just a few short weeks, we’re starting at three new schools. (Possibly four, if I get a work placement.) It’s the “kinder jitters” all over again. For me, not my kids! haha.

    My only “deep thought” on all of this is that it helps if parents don’t drone on and on about it, years after the fact. “You cried all month when you started kindergarten!” etc. I remember nothing about kindergarten, except what my ma told me. She couldn’t stand the teacher and I think still holds a grudge, four decades later 😉

  2. vicki says:

    I distracted my runts, so that nervous thoughts wouldn’t fester in their little heads and explode on reaching their final destination. Think about it, you get more nervous/excited in the anticipation of something don’t you. Sooo….
    I got hold of a ladybird series of colorfully illustrated nursery rhyme books that came with audio tapes as well (songs included). At the start of the drive child picks tape of choice. Child then finds appropriate book and finds page. Start tape, child listens and follows in book. Mum and child can sing or recite along together. Even child who cannot read will follow pictures at first and eventually word recognition kicks in. (My kids still remember these books fondly). Anyway by this time we have arrived and child has no time to summon a reaction as mother scoops up still happy child and delivers to smiling teacher. Lucky for us they went to a school where someone was always there to greet them with a perpetual smile! Loved that school. My eldest even went back to tell them of her success at SEA and they crooned over her and autographed her shirt (a tradition in Trinidad). This is after leaving them some 7 years ago.

    p.s. If we where in the vicinity of the school, after hours or on weekends, we always detoured and waved at the building or anyone who may be there when we passed thus making it a ‘friendly’ house.

  3. Pappy says:

    OK! That worked.

    Spank them all, and send them to bed!
    (oops, wrong blog. heheheh)

  4. Pappy says:

    Have just re-registered to be able to comment.
    So this is a test……

  5. Sharon Burford says:

    In September we get all the new little kiddies coming in and usually it is the boys who wail and gnash their teeth. It breaks my heart to see them on the first week of school. We had one little guy last year stand for the entire day by the door clutching his bag saying “Daddy coming now” while streams of tears fell down his face. This went on for about a week. I do think the parents making a big deal out of it adds to the drama. Its the kids who’s parents hover and fuss and cry and check back 3 times before they reluctantly walk off who cry the most. I think the best thing you can do is get them excited about school..”wow..look at your cool new lunch are such a big boy..I am so proud of you”, and give them a matter of fact hug, kiss and huge smile and wave and ‘have a wonderful day love..mum will see you later” and then make a dive for the car so you can bawl your eyes out -without them seeing you!

  6. Audubon Ron says:

    I wouldn’t know. But, I’ll try the Chicken Nuggets trick on the Little Woman. You give me ideas. BTW, love the new bloggy domicile.

  7. aclare says:

    When I was a Nanny and I used to do the school runs. The nursery school used to invite us in for songs and the little boy I looked after would sit on my lap – as an assurance that I would not go without his knowledge I suppose. However, when the time came to say goodbye he would scream and run after me. I also had to sneak out when he wasn’t watching. I don’t think he liked school very much either. In the end I think I also bribed him with McDonald’s for lunch. But the days of screaming and having to run away I agree felt terrible. I was not around when the twins went the following summer, but I can imagine the more dominant one went quite happily and the other took some coaxing as she was always a bit shy and clingy. But I could be completely wrong!

    I think it also down to the personality of the child and how they accept new challenges. As they grow from baby to toddler you can see their little personalities form. I guess some preparation you could do is monitor their reactions to different new situations. And on the build up to starting school take them out of their comfort zone and try to see how they might react. A little bit of Detective work might help – find out how past generations of the family went to school and how their mother’s dealt with it. They might have some golden ideas.

    I think it might also have something to do with the child’s standing in the family. Perhaps a first born who is used to their mother’s undivided attention and is not used to being with others would be more likely to cause a fuss than a third or forth child who is used to having other people around. Also doing the school run with an older sibling and seeing that when they go in they come out again quite happily helps a sibling adjust before it is his turn! So maybe take them on a visit to see the nursery a couple of times and talk about it as it is something ordinary. I wouldn’t build it up as anything amazing.

    In the end though, a child might act in completely unpredictable way. But to be forewarned is to be forearmed… or something to that effect.

    This is my humble opinion you can take it or leave it….

  8. the Mother says:

    I agree. There’s not a whole lot the mom can do. Sometimes we have to push them out of the nest and hope they fly.

    And be ready to catch them if they fall.

  9. Krissa says:

    Oh, just wait till they’re leaving for summer camp and vacay’s with friends and college!

  10. My best advice is to NOT make a big deal about starting school. The bigger deal WE make about it, the more nervous THEY will get.

    My 8 year old is transitioning to another school this year. I think the teachers actually made the kids MORE nervous about the change by constantly talking about it and asking them how they felt about it.

    When you keep asking someone (child or adult) if they are nervous about something, chances are they will be after all the questioning, even if they were just fine before.

    Kids don’t like interruptions in their routines. Make the transition as calm as possible.

    That’s my advice and I’m sticking to it 😉

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