The beginning of each school year, especially when it is the first time in school, is for both children and parents a new and unknown experience. The new environment, the separation from the parents, the new conditions and the rules of the school, its integration into the whole class while at the same time losing the sense of uniqueness that he had at home are some difficulties that the child has to face during the first days of school. The adjustment time at school is different for each child and can last from one day to a few weeks. Adjustment time is also necessary for changing the school environment or transitioning to the other school grades (from kindergarten to kindergarten, from kindergarten to primary school, etc.).
Both the child’s personality and the family environment, and the support provided play an important role in adapting the child to new environments. For this reason, each child reacts and adapts differently to the new school environment. According to surveys, 80% of children have difficulty adjusting during the first month of schooling.
Some tips for integrating and adapting the child to the school environment as smoothly as possible:
· Above all, we are should investigate and address our fears and the stress of separation from our child. Successful identification of these concerns will lead to their gradual reduction and elimination. Even if it is not immediately possible to deal with them, it is good not to manifest them strongly because they will be passed on to the child and affect it by delaying school adjustment. We don’t have to be overprotective because this reinforces the child’s emotional dependence on us and fills it with insecurity in the new reality that he will face independently.
· We can visit the school a few times before he starts to have the time to familiarize himself with the place and meet his teachers.
· We can read with him books that prepare the child for the first day of school and discuss the child’s feelings the first time he starts something so new and exciting.
· We accompany the child to school in the first few days, and we can introduce him to other children who start school to feel more comfortable and intimate in the classroom. For younger children who go to daycare for the first time, it is good to stay with him for the early few days in daycare if you feel he needs your presence. Gradually, you reduce the time you stay with him so that you will leave him and go in a few days.
· We treat the beginning of school with enthusiasm and go together to choose school supplies. We create his office space with cheerful colors to attract him and read with more will.
· We present to the child the course of the school day, giving him various details. For example, we explain to him how the desks will be placed in the classroom, how the lesson will be with the teacher, discuss his classes, the breaks, and the games at school.
· We emphasize the school’s positive elements to have some motivation to go, like the new friends he will make, the knowledge he will acquire, the games he will be playing during the break, and the excursions.
· We talk to the child and encourage him to express any fears and concerns and try to find ways to deal with them together. We remind him of past situations he feared and how he was able to overcome them. We share our own respective experiences with him; we confess our feelings (anxiety, fear of separation from the parents) and how we got over them.
· There might be symptoms of school refusal, anxiety, nervousness or aggression, and psychosomatic symptoms (e.g., night urination, abdominal pains, difficulty sleeping) that persist. In that case, it is good to consult a psychologist to investigate possible causes and ways of coping with the child’s smooth adaptation to the school environment.
· Finally, it is a good thing to enter a program at home for children that determines the morning awakening, the hours of study, rest and play, and the hours of sleep. This program must be consistently maintained to ensure the smoother development of the child.