Helping shy children start school.
A major change like starting school can be a little daunting for most children but if your child is shy it can be extremely overwhelming. After going through this experience from both sides – as a shy child then the parent of a shy child and after many discussions with other parents I have found these 5 simple things you can do which will help your child settle at school.
1. Visit the school as much as possible.
Before your child starts school try and visit the school as much as possible. Show them as much as possible, walk around the school and point out drinking fountains, seats, gardens, toilets, play area, sports fields, and classrooms. Inside the classroom show them the teacher’s desk, where they will sit, where supplies are kept. Show them as much as possible so they know the school. Being familiar with the school before they begin will help when they start because it won’t seem so big and overwhelming. Often schools have scheduled visits, so contact them and attend as many as possible with your child.
2. Talk with the teacher.
All first year teachers should be use to children who are a little unsure and need help settling in so talk with them. First, it lets the teacher know that your child may take some time to settle in. Second, the teacher may have some ideas on what can help your child. I have heard one teacher who encourages the parent to stay with the class for the first day and then over the week stay a little less until the child is comfortable. Another suggests that for those children that are overwhelmed it’s best to begin with half days before tackling a full day. Remember to keep communicating with the teacher once your child is more comfortable.
3. Teach your child to tell the time.
For young children school days can feel very long and if they are not sure of the time it can feel like forever and this can lead to them worrying about when you are coming back. This can be fixed with a watch and the knowledge of how to read it. Start early and help your child learn to read the time, this will help prevent them from panicking when it ‘seems’ like they have been at school for hours and hours. Even if time seems to be going slowly they will know exactly what time you will be there.
4. Join a pre-school center.
From talking with others this seems the norm. If being separated from you is likely to be the scariest factor in starting school consider enrolling your child in a pre-school center (if you haven’t already). The aim here is for your child to know that they will be ok away from you for a few hours and it is easier to show them this with 3 hours at a pre-school center rather than a full school day. In addition pre-school centers are often quite flexible allowing you to stay for part of the time until your child is comfortable (check with the center, as each is different)
5. Plenty of sleep and breakfast.
Everything is harder when you are tired and hungry and school days are long for those not yet use to it. Getting plenty of sleep and then waking to a nice breakfast will help make the school day seem a little easier.
Every child is different so what works for one may not for another but the tips above should give you a good starting point to help your child settle into school. If you have any other tips that have worked please leave a comment or email me.
Posted: January 2nd, 2009 under Shy Children.