Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Preparing for school

This post is by Kodi's Mom of Kodimeow Kronicles

Last week of September and still only a handful of posts for theme of the month?! Come on guys, if you don't remember your first day of school surely you remember you kids'?
I remember my kid's first day with crystal if it was only the day before.

Ahem. It really was the day before yesterday. My son is a week away from 2, and we started his daycare/school/pre-school/whatever-you-want-to-call-it this week. And this is one of the worst weeks of my life. The only consolation is after the initial tears have been wiped away, he ends up having a whole lot of fun. I thought I'd share my experience of what I did to help with the transition.
(Please don't take this as tips or advice - for I haven't seen results of any of this working so far. As of today he cries, even as we are getting ready for school.)

Kodi is a shy kid. In group settings, he prefers to cling to me and observe for a long time, before participating. He does not like crowds, and does a whole lot better in one-on-one interactions. With familiar faces, he is somewhat at ease.

Keeping that in mind, I thought making the environment familiar to him would help him majorly.

1. Even before we had picked on the school, we took him on a tour. There were different family members we wanted to show the school to, and each time we went, we took Kodi along. One of those times, the class was doing water play outside, and they welcomed him to join. He was thrilled and had no problems stepping in and playing. (yes, yes, only because we were right there in his sight!)

2. When we did finalize on the school, there were forms to be picked up and dropped off, and each time, I made the extra drive home to pick him up and take him with me. I took him to his classroom and he'd look longingly at the toys there and itched to go play.

3. A week or so before the start date, I took him to meet with his teacher. One hello from her and he turned the other way! But at least she was no longer a stranger. At that time, the classroom was empty and with permission, he went in and played to his heart content. Well not quite, I picked him up just as he was having fun, so he would want to come back.

4. Later that week, we made use of the free observation sessions that the school offers. Typically parents pick this option before they select the school - so they can come in with their kid, stay for an hour and observe the classroom. We choose to do it as close to his start date as was possible, on two consecutive days and timed it to coincide with outdoor play time. Both sessions went well and we left on a positive note, with Kodi refusing to come back home with me.

5. During the observation sessions, the teachers talked to me in detail and asked several questions about Kodi to get to know him better. It was good to know that they took the effort. A lot of my initial doubts were cleared, and whether it helped Kodi or not, it helped me big time!

6. At my request and after the first day's progress, we hashed out a plan to let him go only for 2 hours the first week. Based on how this week goes, we plan to increase it to one hour at a time...include lunch one day, include naptime the next and so on till he's fairly comfortable going the whole day. As of now, he is there for a little over two hours, does not eat any meals there, except for a snack, and does not stay for naptime.

7. Beyond this, school featured regularly in all the stories we told him. And we tried to paint a very luring picture.

8. I am sure reading appropriate books would have helped too - but we didn't try that - he is in a I-don't-care-for-books phase.

Added: Can't believe I forgot to add these!
9. Based on the strong recommendation from Tharini, we started homeopathy for Kodi. Just to give a boost to his immunity to fight those ball of germs that will come at him!

10. We also requested his grandma to come for a visit, since having her at home for at least a month would make it possible for him to go only a few hours a day.

11. And last, but most importantly, I blogged! Post after post about school - and the support, cheers and comfort I got from moms (and non-moms!) from everywhere was so touching. I think this was more to prep me than Kodi :D

So that's it! We don't know how long the crying period will last - or if any of this helps him at all - but I had to do whatever was within my bounds. And yes, I know it is a matter of time before I come back here to whine that he's picked school over me :)

Now over to you - either in comments or in separate posts, what did you do to prep your kid (and yourself!) for first day?


Asha said...

Great tips for mothers with young kids.
My kids are shameless..errr..never shy! We just them dropped at Pre-school when they were 3 and they just went in too excited. Teachers only complaint to us till today is that they talk too much and don't listen!
Kodi will be alright in few weeks, he is just Toddler.You have prepared him well too!:))

Sandeepa said...

Good one kodi's Mom :) What I did.....ahhhhhhh I have to rummage my memories :D.
Since we had zeroed in on just one school, we did kind of the same that you did. Your process was more extensive though.

S went for 5 hours but usually my hubby would drop her a little later so that actually she stayed for less than 5 hours. This included lunch & nap though.

For the first week while picking her up I would spend some time in the classroom playing with her & the other kids. I also carried some afternoon snack for everyone with the teacher's permission.

However it had taken S almost a month to fully settle down and even after that she would let out a wail when I went to pick her up inspite of the teacher insisting that she had fun.

During drop off her teachers insisted not to spend time in the class because she used to cry.

But look, after a month she really enjoyed her school. So the first month was very difficult for me but it got better.

Your process was very thorough and I think he should be fine. The initial shorter hours is a splendid idea. Hugs to you & kodi

Sheela said...

kodi's mom: Ana went to "school" aka daycare at 6 months! I bawled as much as she did :-( I checked on her every few hours as the daycare was close to my office... every time I visited she was screaming uncontrollably and red in the face... I would nurse her, calm her down and head back to work... somehow, after a few weeks, it was clear that Ana was not adjusting to the staff and their style of handling her...

I had done my research, applied and got on waiting list, toured the daycare centers, talked to the program directors etc., and found this daycare close to work... and it didn't work out:-(

So, we moved her to another near my husband's work... he checked on her during the day, and as she was getting older and more used to the place, she seemed to fall into the routine there... but, that meant I had to pump often during workday... and pack breastmilk for her everyday...

Oh Dear! those were the days:-)

But, now she loves going to "school" as we call it - when we pick her up in the evenings, she tells us what she did in school that day... plus the teacher gives a note with the details of the day including naptimes and such anyway, and I talk to her teacher often...

You've inspired me to write a post reminiscing those early agonizing daycare days :-)

DR said...

Thats a very nicely put-together post! good work Kodis mom!
when I took A for the first time to "daycare", he was 9 mnths he started crying..I also felt sooooooo very bad! But kids adapt very fast...much faster than we think they do.[Now its easy for me to say this...but those are difficult times for the parents]!
I agree that there are "good" and "bad" daycares, but personally I feel that I HAVE TO TRUST THE PLACE where I am keeping my kid for 8 long hrs. One thing for sure is , daycare cannot be home!
Checking is good....but checking every now and then is not good...though the teachers say that they are comfortable with that but I feel that after a while it irritates them if the parents check in too much.
[this is my personal opinion]

So, Kodi will soon adjust like most kids do...and there will come a day when you have to pull him home from the school!!


Ramya said...

Hi Kodi's mom,

My son is almost 15 mnths and I want to put him in a daycare. I am interested in knowing more about the homeopathic immuno-boost that you put your son on. Can u pass on the link? Thanks,

PS: Sandeepa: I had sent an email to join desimomz. I was wondering if you got it. Thx.