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One of the major milestones in any mom's life is sending her kids to play school or day care. It is truly a nightmare for us and for the kids too. The little kids do not know how to express their feelings to us, except by crying. No wonder the journey was same for me and my angel girl who is 2 years and 7 months old now. I am happy to share a few things that worked out for me in achieving this milestone without much tantrums and melodrama. All these points are targeted for kids of age above 2 years who are about to start their day care/playschool/ preschool.
1. Start preparing them from a month before:
The first thing that I did when I planned to put her in day care was to start preparing her for it. I started to pretend-play with her by enacting the whole “school-going-and-returning" process. I will ask her to carry her school bag with her favourite things in it and then say bye to me. After a while, I will ask her to come back running to me saying “Mommy! I am back from school”. Then I will ask her what she did in school the whole day. I continued this even after she started day care. So she mentally knew that this will happen once she started going to school.
2.Get them used to the School/ Day-care environment:
What I did next was to take her often to the day care that I was going to enroll her into. For instance, I took her along with me when I went for inquiring and also when I went for the enrollment. So, on the actual starting day she went directly to play with the toys there and didn’t bother about the environment as she was already used to the day-care center.
3.Show them books and videos of kids going to school:
There are so many books that illustrate activities regarding kids going to school. There are also lots of rhyme videos available online on the same topic. I used to show these to her and make her understand that going to school is a happy activity and that there is nothing to be worried.
When the D-day finally arrives, it is us moms who will be more worried than the kids. How much ever we yearn for the ‘Me’ moment, we would still feel so empty when they start going to school. I still remember the first day when I went to pick her up; that was the longest 10 minute walk for me. My heart was feeling so heavy and I could not wait one extra minute to hold her in my arms. So, once they start going to school, how can we make the journey easy for ourselves and for our kids.
1.Understanding our kids:
This is the most important part in making them feel better. The kids who have started speaking by this time might be able to express what they feel. But for the kids who have not started speaking properly, all that they know is to cry. For both the categories, the first thing that we need to do is to acknowledge their feelings. We need to tell them in a way they understand that it will be difficult without mommy in the school, but they will start liking daycare soon. We should tell them that it is fine to cry and let their feelings out. Give them hugs as much as possible because hugging creates wonders when they are sad or emotional.
2.Surprise them when picking up:
Surprises need not be costly ones at all. I used to pick some 2$ toys like surprise eggs, small handy dolls for my girl. Assure them that when mommy comes for picking up they will get a surprise gift. For the first 2 weeks, I gave her these low budget surprise gifts. Slowly these gifts turned to her favourite snacks and it still continues. These surprises will make them look forward for the pick-up time a little more cheerfully.
3.Spare more time for them:
First few days, without any doubt, will be bad for them; from being under mommy’s care to entirely under someone else’s care. So, all that we can do is spend more time with them once they are back from day care. They need that extra time from us as they were not with us the whole day. This will make them feel happy after having spent the whole day crying in daycare. Make them choose their favourite dress to wear, play their favourite games together, read their favourite books, play them some of their favourite songs or rhymes. All these things will bring their mood back to happy mode easily.
4.Sharing stories of that day:
It’s not only the kids who need to share what they did in the day care, but parents also can share with their kids about what they did the whole day in a way they understand. Once they come back from day care before asking them what they did, we can just casually tell them all that we did after dropping them. And then we can ask about their day. It will build that good relationship and understanding and a very good routine to follow regularly even after they grow up into big kids.
All you mommies, we need to stay strong to let them go see the world. This generation kids can sense our feelings easily and they just imitate the same in their own way of expression. So, smile and cheer them up when they start the day care or preschool and they will try to get adapted to the new environment happily.