Do you also feel sad when thinking about leaving your kid in kindergarten for the first time?
Starting kindergarten is a big step for children and parents. Today we have 5 tips on how to get through the adoption period and how to make it easier for you and your child.
Tip 1: Preparation! Talk to your educators – BEFORE
The first days of settling in are very important. Take your time and sit down with the responsible person in the kindergarten – before! This way you ensure to get detailed information regarding the adoption period. Have the following questions ready:
- How does the adoption period work?
- What steps are planned?
- How long will it take? What are their experiences?
- How do they handle difficult situations? (e.g. crying, clings)
- What do they expect from the parents’ side?
- Do they have any tips? If so, let them explain to you!
- Which pedagogical ideas are behind their strategies?
- Ask for a list of clothes, medicine, special food etc you are supposed to bring on the first day
Do you have any concerns or fears? Now it is the time to express them! Make sure to agree with the pedagogical procedures, ask as many questions as you can and be sure to mention difficulties, sensitivities or fears of your child.
PS: It helped me to create a list with all questions beforehand together with my partner to make sure we do not forget anything.
Tip 2: Do not try to suppress emotions
Starting kindergarten is not only emotional for kids, but also a big change for parents. Often there might be doubts whether the child is ready, whether it has enough confidence in the new place or whether the teachers are treating your child well. All these feelings need space and should not be suppressed or pushed away.
It is definitely not easy to give your child into strangers’ hands. Tell the educators about your possible fears and doubts, and also about your sadness. This creates trust and connection, which ultimately benefits your child. Tears may flow or doubts may keep you awake during the night. It is important that you allow your feelings and do not repress them. Be loving with yourself – You are a great mom. You are a great dad. You are trying to do the best for your kid. You are great 🙂
PS: It helped me to give the child away to friends or family for a couple of hours/days before kindergarten actually started. This way the children know what it means when mom and dad are away for a short period of time.
Tip 3: Allow your child to have feelings!
Kids live in the present, they do not think about the past or the future. For this reason, their emotions only occur during the settling-in process itself. Since they love mom and dad the most, they would like to stay with you forever. A child faces great demands with the start of kindergarten: It has to build trust with new people, socialize with new adults and children and learn new routines. These challenges automatically lead to strong emotions such as fears, anger and sadness. It is very important that you do not « talk your child out of » these feelings but instead allow your child to be sad and accept the situation.
When children have big feelings, the following steps help:
- Accept what is. Notice the feeling, accept it and don’t try to « talk it away ».
- Be there. Endure the crying and screaming and remain calm and loving.
- Keep calm! Sometimes anger, frustration, sadness and impatience come up when our child cries or screams. This is normal, especially during the settling-in period and that’s OK and usually passes quickly. At the end of the day, you will be grateful when you remained calm and dealt with your own feelings in a mature manner.
PS: It helped me to prepare a little book with pictures of close family and friends, which I left in the kindergarten for my child to calm down when feeling sad.
Tip 4: No time pressure
Try to take enough time for the adoption. We live in a fast-moving environment, but time pressure is pure poison when it comes to settling in. Of course, kindergartens have their own plan for settling in, and in principle you can assume that this plan is appropriate for the child. Talk openly with the teachers if you have the feeling that things are moving too quickly and try to find a solution together. Often kindergarten teachers are happy when parents are willing to take more time. In some kindergartens, the settling-in period is one week. In other ones the period lasts at least two weeks and the parents are with the child for the entire first week. During the first few days, the child is only in the kindergarten for one or two hours. Try to find the rhythm which works best for you and your child.
PS: It helped me to just wait in front of the door for as long as needed when leaving my child to ensure that it was taken care of in the way I expected it.
Tip 5: Family ritual for the start of kindergarten
You don’t have to throw a party or invite your whole family right away because your child is about to attend the kindergarten. Rather than that, small rituals can make sure your child associates its first days as something good and special. You could for example prepare a nice, decorated breakfast with your child’s favorite cereals and spend some quality time together as a family.
PS: It helped me to sing favourite songs on the way to kindergarten and get the child really excited for the first weeks. We also passed by kindergarten before actually starting to get a feeling for the area.
We are all going through this. And then there is this one day when you want to pick up your child from kindergarten and it does not want to come with you…and starts crying because it wants to stay there…So any tips on how to get your child back home? 🙂