CHILDWISE By RUTH LIEW
WHILE some Year One schoolchildren may fret over starting school for the first time, many are no longer new to the idea of making the transition from home to school. Today’s children are well prepared because they have attended preschool. I remember when I first sent my second daughter to Year One class. I overheard one of her classmates comforting another child: “Don’t be scared. Your mummy will come for you after school.”
While these first-timers are prepared for academic learning, they are not quite prepared for school life. It’s a big leap for many children who attended small kindergartens to move into a large building for primary education. The school hours are longer, and there are more classes and students.
Parents are concerned about their children’s health and safety when they first enter Year One. They look out for traffic safety and hygienic school canteens that serve healthy snacks. However, they may neglect to teach their children some personal safety rules. Your Year One child needs to know his full address, parents’ handphone numbers and the phone number of one more trusted adult. Rehearse with your child the steps to take if he should need to contact his parents. For example, start by teaching him how to use a pay phone or seek help from the school office. If he is unable to remember them, he should keep the details in a safe place in his bag. Do not write personal details on his bag for all to see. Your child must understand that these personal details should not be revealed to strangers.
As for talking to strangers in and out of school, Year One children need to know that good strangers do not seek help from children. If anyone approaches them for help, they should run to a trusted adult for assistance. Children should be reminded never to take things from strangers or follow them anywhere.
Don’t be over-zealous over labelling your child’s belongings. Allow your child to learn from his mistakes after losing a few pencils or water tumblers. Some children feeling very anxious when they lose their belongings. They would try to find it at all cost so that they would not have to face their parents’ wrath. Children need to know that their safety comes first. They can learn ways on how to remember to keep their belongings. But they must know that they should always make their personal safety a priority above all things.
Some children tend to trust an unfamiliar adult who calls them by name. You must help your child to remember that he has a name tag on his uniform. Many Year One children encounter problems with bullying and teasing. You can help your child feel confident in class by being on friendly terms with everyone in his class. If one of his friends should ask him to do something he is not comfortable with, he has the right to say “No”.
Remind your child to stay away from teasing and tattling in class. Teasing can hurt even if it is just name-calling. Tattling is about telling on someone to hurt him or get him into trouble. But your child needs to know that he can tell his teacher if it is going to help someone keep out of trouble.Children must also understand that they should never go alone anywhere in the school grounds or outside, without the knowledge of their teachers. They should always remain in groups or in pairs. I have seen many Year One children playing hide-and-seek. They are placing themselves in potentially dangerous situations when they go to places where the school authorities cannot supervise them. At the start of the new school year, spend more time listening to your child talk about the goings-on among his friends and things that happened in the canteen. You will learn more about his school life and be able to help him adjust better. He needs to know that you will always be ready to help him out when he encounters a problem in or out of the classroom.