Preparing your Preschooler for Reopening of Schools

By Nishita Acharya|5 - 6 mins| April 30, 2022

With schools shut all over the world due to the pandemic, millions of children had to adapt to new ways of learning. For nearly two years, the children have spent learning online now. The reopening of schools all around the country, especially preschools has come as a pleasant surprise to many. As the schools are gearing towards transitioning from the online to offline mode, the question remains in every preschool parent’s mind- is my child ready to go back to school? All changes are hard at first. Anticipating challenges by assessing how your child feels about them will help you better prepare them for the new normal. With the right preparation, getting back to routines shouldn’t be a problem.

Challenge: Sleep!

In the past two years, children might have enjoyed staying up late, watching screens whenever they pleased, and eating or taking a bath when they felt like it. But parents know what it is like when children don’t get enough rest. How often do we use or hear the term “cranky” associated with a child? Plenty!
Even if we put aside aspects of schooling like writing letters of the alphabet, doing Math, or completing worksheets, children still need to be able to pay attention. This is a huge ask for a child who is not well-rested. Studies show that children can even find it harder to control their emotions due to inadequate sleep. This could easily lead to frustration.

Make sleep a priority

So, at least two weeks before the reopening of schools, move the sleep time back incrementally. This ensures that the change is not sudden. Ensure that this isn’t open for discussion by being firm and clear. Making their bedtime routine special by reading to them, singing a lullaby, playing soft music, or even having a one-on-one conversation can make this a remarkable time for your child. Before you know it, they will be looking forward to it every day.

Challenge: Separation anxiety

This is common among preschoolers. Remember the times when returning to school after a vacation was tough on you as a kid. Imagine the plight of these children who have neither seen their teachers nor their classrooms, physically in two years! This can be a time for anxiety or fear for some children.

Roleplay

A small rehearsal of the big day might seem unimportant but can prove to be helpful. Visit the school before it reopens, if possible, and explore the place with your child. This will build familiarity and comfort for the child.

Do role-reversals at homes. Let your child take your place and you pretend to be anxious and clingy. You will be surprised by how well your child can take charge of parenting you! Reassuring your child that you will return as soon as their class completes can make this less painful. Express how proud you’re when you pick them up (even if the day didn’t go well)

Challenge: Using the washroom

Many children may find it daunting to use an unfamiliar place to relieve themselves. Some simply refuse to use the washroom while others might just hold it or avoid going altogether. Being embarrassed or not being able to communicate his/her needs might put the child in unfavourable situations. Sometimes it could lead to accidents in the class There could be more serious consequences – anything from general discomfort to something as serious as developing a urinary tract infection.

Practice, practice, practice!

Encourage your child to use the bathroom at home independently first. Practising using public washrooms like in a mall or a restaurant would also help. Another method would be to talk through the whole process of using a washroom. Example: walk across the class to the washroom, find an empty booth, make sure the seat is up/down, wash your hands, etc. If possible, visit the campus before the reopening of schools and help the child find their way around a washroom. Equip them with sanitisers and wipes if necessary.

Challenge: Wearing a mask for a long duration

Let’s face it, wearing a mask for extended periods can be cumbersome, especially for a young child.

Games to the rescue

Apart from buying colourful, skin-friendly, and attractive masks, letting your child choose the masks that he/she wants to wear could be an added advantage. Turning it into a game might amp up the fun for the child. Play a game of “Simon says” with the mask.
Kids thrive on routine. So have a set “getting ready to school” routine with activities like taking a bath, getting dressed, wearing your bag, wearing your mask, etc. For younger children, this can be done through pictures too. Once your child gets used to wearing a mask, increase the time that they have it on incrementally. Establish a clear way of taking breaks if they need it. Praise them generously and reward them.

Challenge: Socializing

While some children might eagerly be looking forward to meeting their teachers and friends, for many others it might be a tough ordeal. Kids who’ve never been in a physical school or are starting at a new school might worry about not knowing anyone.

Validate their feelings

Tell them that it’s ok if they don’t feel up to it yet. Hands-on learning can play a crucial part in reassuring a child. Have role-play activities of greeting a friend, introducing oneself. Arranging playdates with other kids in the class might also help as an ice-breaker. Some kids are comfortable spending time by themselves. As long as they enjoy themselves, there is no need to worry. Allow them more time to acclimatise.

Challenge: Short attention span

Due to the pandemic, screen time exposure has drastically increased. And this has had a damaging effect on the children’s attention spans. Children these days get bored easily.

Introduce the pleasures of board games with the child

This not only inculcates the spirit of sportsmanship and teamwork but is a good way to incorporate some precious family bonding time too. Other games could be jigsaw puzzles, building blocks, a game of Jenga, or dominos. Board games are not only fun, but they also help in brain and language development too.

“Even challenges are beautiful opportunities in disguise”

– Rhonda Byrne

So, when schools reopen, there will be plenty of opportunities for our children to rejoice. Let us make this period memorable for our children. They deserve it.


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About The Author:

Nishita Acharya

Last Updated: Sat Apr 30 2022

This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the above blog/article text are the personal views of the author, and not necessarily reflect the views of SchoolMyKids. Any omission or errors are the author's and we do not assume any liability or responsibility for them.
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