Psychologist Dr. Özge Alkanat, Director of Psychological Support Research & Application Center, Izmir University of Economics (IUE), gave some valuable tips to help ensure a smooth transition for parents on their child's first day of school. Dr. Alkanat stated that starting school was a major life transition for children. She defined this process a period where children face the outer world and postpone their pleasures. Dr. Alkanat said, “Parents should avoid telling their children that school is place for playing only and that they can behave however they like. This disappoints children who understand there are school rules to follow, and results in alienation from school. Parents should be realistic and open to their children. This is very important.”
Dr. Özge Alkanat pointed that starting school was a major life transition for parents also. She said that the family system was also meeting the outer world along with the child. Dr. Alkanat said, “The fact that the child is open to socialization, has a strong bond of trust with parents, and doesn’t see separation as a threat, eases child’s transition to school. Moreover, the child should know what to expect at school and what is expected of him/her clearly. Persuasive phrases such as ‘School is fun, you will get to play with friends’ or ‘Let’s go to school, if you don’t like it, we won’t stay’ might be dangerous. The child has to know that there are responsibilities as well as fun, that there is a 40-minute long class, and then recess, that s/he cannot leave the class whenever they want. This is exactly the reason first grade students go through orientation week at school. Parents, too, should inform their children at home.”
“Avoid worrisome discourses”
Dr. Alkanat pointed out that parents needed to learn to manage their own worries about their child starting school. “If the parent fails to manage worries like, ‘I wonder if my child can adapt to school’, ‘be successful’, then the child will sense these worries, which makes it more difficult for the child to adapt to the school. It is important for families to know the school well and get all their questions answered. Today, parents are doing everything they can to make their children happy. This causes a major expectation for the child. However, with school life, child learns to postpone pleasures, enters a period of being patient. It is also important for parents to develop discipline and build a daily routine with the start of the school. The child should go to bed at a specific time every night. Sleep is very important for the development of children. Children aged 6-13 should sleep at least for 9 hours.”
“Talk about your school memories”
Dr. Alkanat continued as, “Parents should give responsibilities to their children about school. Children should prepare their own school bag; put their books in the cabinet, choose their own notebooks and pencils, or organize their clothes. Giving such responsibilities will help children gain skills. In addition, parents talking about their own fun school memories to their children will help develop a positive image in their mind about school. The issue of the parents or family members waiting outside the classroom or in the yard when the child is in class should be managed with the teacher depending on the child’s perception about school. During a regular transition period, waiting for the child at school for a long time would only prolong the transition period. It makes the child think of school a place where s/he cannot manage alone. It decreases self-confidence in the child. Another issue to handle is the technology. Children spend excessive time with smart phones, or in front of TV and computers. For an elementary school student, the ideal time to spend should be between 45 minutes to an hour. This period should be used in 15-minute intervals. Going over this period would have negative impact on child’s development and cause exhaustion and sleep deprivation.”
TIPS TO PARENTS
1) Lead and motivate your child to become social. Encourage your child to adapt to school without depending on you.
2) Explain to your child that there are specific responsibilities as well as fun at school. Your child needs to know that school is place to obey rules.
3) Avoid reflecting your worries about your child’s school life. Do not hesitate to get in touch with the school to ease your worries.
4) Make sure that your child takes responsibility. Make them prepare their own school bag; put their books, notebooks, pencils into the bag on their own.
5) Talk about your own funny, good school memories, friendships to your children. It would help smooth the transition period.
6) Do not see the hardships, which are very normal during the orientation period, as major problems. Let your child cope with these on his/her own. Consult your child’s teacher about wanting to wait for your child at school.
7) Build a daily routine at home with the start of the school. Be more attentive to the dining and sleeping times of your child.
8) For an elementary school student, the ideal time to spend with smart phones, TV, or computer should be between 45 minutes to an hour. Please make sure they do not exceed that time.