Put a few hundred young kids together in the same place and the atmosphere can turn somewhat chaotic. It is not uncommon for a child to feel lost and alone, especially with the influx of new teachers and classmates.
What then, can be done to ease a child’s transition from kindergarten to primary school?
One way for a dad to get a child ready for primary school is to prepare him physically for it. Studies have shown that a father’s involvement in a child’s education produces positive outcomes when it comes to their achievement in school.
A dad’s direct involvement in a child’s learning and in school is associated with better educational outcomes such as greater progress at school and better attitudes towards school. ‘
In fact, “school readiness” in children correlates with high levels of paternal sensitivity, over and above mothers’ sensitivity.
A dad can also help his child prepare for school by taking her to buy her books and uniforms. Going over with her the logistics of getting to class, and little details such as how many classmates she will have or whether there will be a school bus, can help the child understand the concept of school better.
Establishing a new routine for school is also important. For example, if your child’s usual naptimes will coincide with school, slowly changing them a week or two before school starts will ensure that your child adjusts to this new schedule in time for school.
‘It wouldn’t do for your child to be cranky and tired during school hours just because he isn’t used to not having his nap!
It has been said that the greatest fear is fear of the unknown. By familiarising your child with the different aspects and changes that primary school brings, uncertainties that your child faces can be alleviated.
A child’s curiosity is never satisfied and with primary school being a new experience, there are sure to be many questions.
Dads should take this opportunity to reassure their child, and at the same time, share positive experiences about their own school experiences. Children often view their fathers as role-models and hearing about their own father’s positive experiences will put school in a favourable light for them.
“How Was School Today?”
When school starts, dads should also make it a point to keep track of their child’s school life by encouraging the child to talk about her day over dinner. This also makes it easier to monitor for bullying in school.
If your child starts becoming unusually quiet or shows an uncharacteristic reluctance to attend school, it is a sign that something could be wrong. Do not overreact as that might scare your child. Instead, talk to her about it. Let her know that you’re there to help and he is not alone.’
With your child now spending an increased amount of time away from home, teachers become the child’s primary contact while in school. Teachers are in a position to see a side of the child that parents might not see at home and thus can provide different insights that aid parents in understanding their children better.
It is advisable for parents to establish good parent-teacher relationships so as to make it easier for parents to keep tabs on their child.
Attending parent-teacher meetings regularly is a good way to form such firm relationships. Although mothers are often the ones who attend such meetings, it is also crucial for dads to be kept in the loop.
This can be done through feedback from mothers who have conversed with the child’s teachers. By obtaining updates from mothers, dads can still keep in touch with their child’s progress even if they can’t be physically present to talk to the teachers.
Of course, nothing beats face-to-face communication and dads should try to make it for meetings whenever possible. This makes it easier for dads to enquire about the child and teachers can address such queries directly. It also demonstrates to your child that you are interested in her progress at school.
Spend Time Together
School will invariably affect the schedule of the entire family. For working parents, it might be especially difficult for them to spend quality time with their children.
Following in the footsteps of Singapore’s Eat with Your Family Day, the family can consider setting aside one day a week for family time. It can be something as simple as having dinner together, or maybe going out as a family for a movie.
The important thing is to establish a regular weekly routine, something your child can look forward to or expect. This will help create stability in terms of family life.
Dads are just as important as mothers when it comes to being involved with a child’s education. At this delicate stage where a child is still trying to adapt to school life, a dad’s support will be especially crucial.
Although it might not seem like much, a dad’s active presence can provide the encouragement and confidence a child needs for a smooth transition into school life.
1. Fatherhood Institute Research Summary: Fathers and their Children’s Education © The Fatherhood Institute, January 2009
About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.
First published on 11-07-2011.