We started my son’s transition to Children’s House (Cycle 1) during his last two weeks in NIDO (0-3 years program with parents) last school term. He visited his new classroom three times and spent approx 30 minutes- 1 hour in the classroom each time. During this time my son was shown where the toilets are, where the children eat their snacks and have lunch and where to put your belongings and also spent some time working with some of the classroom materials. As a family we also sat down with my son’s Directress as a meet and greet and go through what we need to do to support my son during his time at school. This was really helpful. Also a great time to ask questions.
First week of school;
Monday: Public Holiday. This gave me the chance to make up some school lunch box snacks (date and coconut balls, muesli bars) etc and ensure there is enough spare clothing for the week and get any last-minute things done.
Tuesday: Day 1 of school. I was up an hour before everyone else to get my self dressed and ready for the day. I then got out my children’s snack and lunch boxes and filled up water bottles, prepped breakfast and made myself a coffee. I ended up making their food for the day as there was just too much going on. I think when my son is more settled I will see if he wants to help make up his snack each day.
When my children woke up, my daughter was so excited that her brother was going to school today and was a huge help in getting him ready. They ate breakfast together, brushed teeth and hair together, got dressed and put on their shoes and socks together. We left for school earlier than usual to ensure we would not be late (sometimes the traffic is bad) and it gave us 25 minutes of school playground play before starting class. This made a big difference as both of my children played with some of the other kids which I think lessens anxiety a bit on the first day back.
When It was time to go in, we dropped my daughter off first and then took my son to his classroom next door. He was very excited to go in as he knows his Directress well, he is just yet to meet children from his own class. I picked him up at 12 and there was a few tears. I was told he had a good morning but was getting a bit tired towards the end and was ready to go home, probably all very overwhelming. I could have picked him up a bit earlier but I thought finishing the same time as the other morning children meant he would better grasp the concept of pick up time as at the end of the morning session they have ‘circle time’ which is usually book reading, story telling or song time. They do the same circle time at the end of the day for the children leaving at 3pm.
Wednesday: Day 2 of school. Same as yesterday we got ourselves ready early and left early however we got stuck in traffic as there had been some kind of car accident on the main freeway and we just got to school on time with no time for play before hand. My son got a bit teary at drop off but he said it was because he wanted to play with his friend who he played with the morning before but he had already gone into class. This particular friend is in my daughter’s class.
Each parent at the school handles tears and crying with their children differently and I can understand a parent hovering too long can sometimes make it worse, however I sat on the grass with my son in front of his classroom door and gave him a hug, reassured him that I am coming back and I did not rush off. I wanted to make sure he was OK before I left and he was. His Directress (Teacher) came over to see how he was going and asked if my son would like to help her set up some new paints for the art easel which he eagerly did so. At pick up time my son was excited to see me and tell me all about what he had done. It seems he had a really good time. Today was also music lesson day (music and movement) so towards the end of the morning there was some musical instrument playing, singing and dancing. Lots of fun.
Thursday: Day 3 of school. Today my son happily went into class and was happy at pick up time.
Friday: We chose No school today and instead a day of rest. I could tell my son was getting very tired and needed today to just be at home with me. It’s possible he is getting a cold, so It’s nice we have the weekend to ourselves as well to rest.
I may have mentioned that my daughter is at school full-time now (five-days a week 9-3pm). So this means that I now do a 12 midday school pick up and a 3pm pick up which I don’t mind. Keeping this in mind though, it can be tiring for my son especially that he hasn’t wanted to have a day nap. He does love to pick up his sister from school and stay back for a short play with all the other children though. My son is a social butterfly and loves to be around other children. I think the tears this week not only because it’ a big change for him but also the bit of separation anxiety. Parents go through this as well. It’s not easy for many of us, myself included.
This term, I am just going to follow my son’s lead and only increase school days (from 4 days to eventually 5 days when he is ready). If you don’t already know, Children’s House is actually meant to be five days a week, but many parents start out with just a few days a week until their child is ready. I think whatever you choose to do, it’s helpful to be consistent. Either way I still need to take my daughter to school each day. The plan is to always have my son’s school bag packed and in the car if he chooses to go every day.
Link: Why Five Days a Week– Baan dek Montessori
The classroom morning routine;
- Bags/hats get hung up on a rack on the verandah. Children can choose to take shoes off or keep them on. In my son’s classroom snack bags/lunch boxes get put onto a table inside the classroom whereas in my daughter’s classroom snack bags/lunch boxes stay with their school bag as they have a designated shelf space/nook for this. The 9-12 morning program is called the (3 hour work period) where children can choose work inside, on the verandah or in the outside classroom space (painting, watering plants, gardening etc). Children can work at a child-sized table, or on the floor using a mat/rug to define their work space. Depending on the type of work they choose, children can work independently, with a friend or in a small group. If the child chooses a piece of work from the shelf that they have not used before, the Director/Directress will give a lesson first. This 3 hour work period can be broken up for snack time (the child chooses if/when they want their snack) and If the children are tired, they can choose to sit in the reading corner and look at books or just sit on a couch style chair and observe the other children doing their work. For those children who stay all day, there is a space for nap/rest time.
I will let you know how he settles in next week.