Every child feels anxious when it’s time to be away from Mom and Dad. It’s important to remember that every stage of your child’s development contains challenges, including natural fears and anxieties, and separation anxiety is just another part of growing up. Watching your child cry and scream as you leave them at school is always heart wrenching for a parent, but by following a few simple guidelines you can help ease your child’s fears and hopefully some of your own as well.
Prepare your child in advance. Don’t wait until the first day to spring the goodbye, but don’t constantly remind your child of the approaching separation either, as this may make you both more nervous. Remember that children pick up easily on your feelings.
Keep goodbyes short and sweet. In doing so, you convey the message that you have confidence in your child’s ability to handle the situation. It doesn‘t have to be a quick kiss and a dash out, but don’t hover around either. Children may cry for a few minutes, but usually, as soon as you’re gone, they get over it. For many children, a loving goodbye routine helps to ease the anxiety.
Familiarize yourself and your child with the new environment and the people in it. Learn the names of the teachers, your child’s classmates, and the routine. Then you and your child can talk about what to expect. Later on, with older children, you can invite classmates over so your child can build strong friendships. Allow your child his/her own natural fears, but try to lesson those fears by ensuring friendly and familiar faces surround your child.
Involve the teachers. You need someone on the other end who will greet your child and ease the transition. Teachers can’t bond properly with your child, if you are still at school. Give the teachers time and space to gain your child’s trust. Don’t discuss your child’s or your anxiety with his/her teacher in front of him/her. Save conversations and questions for the end of the day, phone, or schedule a conference time.
Trust in your child’s ability to adjust. New routines are difficult for both children and adults. When children begin school, they may express their anxiety by being irritable, whining, wetting their pants, or clinging to you. Stay calm and don’t add to their anxiety by getting upset. Keep an upbeat attitude and give your child the necessary time and tools to adjust.
Don’t be surprised if anxiety continues to re-occur or increase after holidays or sick days. Refusal to go to school often re-occurs following an extended period away from school. It also may follow a stressful occurrence, such as the death of a pet or relative, a change in family arrangements, a change in schools or a move to a new neighbourhood.
Remember that separation anxiety means that a strong and loving bond exists between you and your child. It is healthy and normal for children to develop attachments to the adults in their lives, and to feel anxious or insecure when those adults are not nearby. Remember, with the right approach, you can help ease all the growing-up transitions your child will encounter.
Here’s to an exciting first week of school!
By The teachers of Hout Bay Montessori
This is the third and final excerpt in a series of articles, aimed at parents who are interested in the HBM Primary learning environment.
This is the second in a series of articles, aimed at parents who are interested in the HBM Primary learning environment.
Montessori primary children experience a totally integrated curriculum referred to as cosmic education. Subjects are introduced in a series of connected stories that spark the child’s imagination, called the great lessons. Cosmic education seeks to expand the child’s knowledge by providing him with a coherent whole view rather than a mix of unrelated bits of information; that assists in helping the child classify new information in a coherent way. The stories give the child a context for all future learning in a way of seeing the relevance in the detail of what they learn.
Especially designed Montessori materials enable the children to literally see and explore abstract concepts and the primary child uses these concrete experiences to develop a deep abstract understanding of complex concepts. The materials cater for different abilities and ages in the class. They provide a scope and sequence allowing each child to move at his own pace. Children continue their week over weeks and months (as they need) until the work is ‘so easy’ for them that they teach it to someone else. This assures the teacher that the child has achieved mastery.
The environment is structured and orderly to facilitate the child to make choices for their learning. All activities and materials are placed on the shelves with everything clear, complete and in good repair. Materials with missing parts are removed from the shelves. The children are actively involved in maintaining order and making decisions about how the classroom could work for everyone.
Preparation for life
Montessori education is a preparation for life and not just an academic preparation. The Montessori environment is rich with learning opportunities for the children to explore their culture and the world. Social, emotional and spiritual learning experiences are valued as highly as intellectual learning experiences. Rich cultural experiences including music, art, singing, drama, celebrations from other cultures, plant and animal studies are a feature in the classroom.
by Kerin Goosen
This is the first in a series of articles, aimed at parents who are interested in the HBM Primary environment.
Vertical Age groupings
The children are a mixture of ages from 6 to 9 year olds or 9 to 12 year olds. This grouping allows each child to find his or her own pace without feeling ‘ahead’ or ‘behind’ in relation to their peers. There is no segregation by age or year level in any learning area. The children can develop socially, emotionally and intellectually at their individual pace. Each child is carefully observed, gently guided and corrected – through self-correcting materials and teachers.
A respectful community
Everyone learns from one another and everyone’s contribution is acknowledged and valued.
Children develop confidence and are comfortable in their interactions with each other and adults. The children play an important role in deciding and managing classroom activities and routines from conflict resolution skills and hosting class meetings to presenting lessons to classmates and engaging in community service projects.
A motivation to learn
Children learn when they are free to choose work that is personalised to their interests, needs and abilities. They are free to choose their own work within appropriate limits negotiated with their teacher. They take an active role in planning their work and setting goals for themselves. They don’t work for grades or external rewards. At any time the children will be involved in different tasks. They have the freedom to choose their own work – they don’t have the freedom to choose nothing.
The teacher responds to the changing interests of each child as a unique individual. The children become deeply involved in what they are doing. The teachers know the children well and respond to their unique interests and needs, engaging the parents in this process. Each child’s individual needs are assessed through observation so that he is introduced to new concepts when he is developmentally ready and new knowledge is always built on what he already knows. The learning environment meets the developmental needs of all children in a safe, caring and interesting community. The children are relaxed and develop confidence with their peers and teachers. Learning is fun and children find joy in their discoveries and in the activities they choose each day.
By Kerin Goosen
Montessori elementary classrooms are fundamentally different from traditional elementary school rooms. In fact, they are so different that it can be hard to understand how they work, and why they are so great at helping children thrive.