How to best manage the return to kindergarten of our child?

It was Joy’s first return to kindergarten… What enthusiasm for the idea of ​​this first school year! She was going to do lots of activities, meet friends, and given her sociable and curious nature, that only bodes well …

“It’s gonna be great, you’ll see. In the morning, you will start with “the call”. And then there will be plenty of activities. Then there will be recess to have fun. There will surely be children who will cry on the first day, but it is because they do not know that it is going to be great ”.

Yes, we were positive and so was she.

Except that the day after the start of the school year, everyone was crying. And Joy, clearly, was taking it upon herself not to do the same.

Let’s avoid creating exaggerated expectations

What if being so positive hadn’t been the best strategy for going back to kindergarten?

By telling Joy that it was going to be great, it had the advantage of boosting her for the start of the school year. But when she experienced it, it was not as easy going as we had suggested to her. It was obviously stressful.

It’s just like moving to a new country, where we don’t know anyone. Rationally it’s great, but emotionally it’s not that easy. For our children, it’s the same: it’s being immersed in an unfamiliar environment, with new people, new comrades, new rules… We take you right to left, and you don’t know what sauce you’re going for. to be eaten. It is far from being “simple”.

“I don’t want to go to school”, how to react?

The second day arrived and she told us ” Mommy, daddy, I don’t wanna go to school today ».

So let’s not make the mistake of trying to reason with our child with the classic phrase “But yes, that’s great!” Your mistress is super sweet, I’m sure you’ll make friends! “

Trying to reassure “rationally” does not help to be less afraid of this new school year …

Imagine an experience. Say you are forced to lock yourself in a room with hundreds of mice, so you can see how they live up close. After a first session, you are terrified of mice. You tell your friend who had the good idea to take you to this funny zoo, that you never want to go back there again. He then replies to you “But hey, it’s great! There is really nothing to be afraid of. The little beast does not eat the big one. I’m sure you will get used to it! “. Would you then also just say to yourself “Oh he’s right, I’ll be back soon”?

Not really, you feel like you are being taken for an idiot because you are scared, you are almost ashamed of how you feel, and you are not ready to talk to him about it again. You run the risk of continuing to tell him “I don’t want to go back” without giving him a reason.

For our child, on this new school day, it’s the same thing. Let us not try to reason with him: not only is it not effective and in addition it risks restraining him from expressing his anxieties. However, it is precisely understanding his anxiety and expressing it that will help him overcome it!

Beginning of kindergarten: seeking to understand the origin of fear

We therefore opted to LISTEN rather than reason with it:

  • “Don’t you want to go to school?”
  • ” No. (If my child had been older, he probably would have explained why on his own. Since she wasn’t saying anything, I gave him suggestions).
  • “Don’t you want to go to school because you think the teacher isn’t nice?” Or is it the playground that you don’t like? “
  • “Yes, because there are grown-ups who call me a baby. “
  • (We refrain once again from reasoning our child by saying ” But you’re not a baby …“)” Oh yes I understand that you don’t like grown-ups calling you a baby, it’s very annoying. “
  • “Yes, because I am not a baby. “
  • “I agree with you, you are not a baby. How could we make sure you don’t mind him calling you a baby anymore? “

The keys to good listening

The important thing is:

  • not to try to reason with the child;
  • to understand why he is afraid, in order to help him identify his fears by reformulating them. Being aware of where your fear comes from (“I am not afraid of mice, but let them climb on me”) is a first step in tempering your fear;
  • to show him that we understand him, so that he feels relieved that his fear is completely “normal”. You can also tell him “Me too, you know, when I was little I was afraid to go to the playground”, he will already feel much better!

A few days after starting kindergarten, Joy no longer told us about her recess problems. It would appear, however, that she did not apply any of our suggestions. The simple fact of having talked about it, of having felt listened to, of having realized that it was not the playground that she did not like, but the grown-ups who came to call her a baby, the helped to stop being afraid of playtime itself. It helped her to simply avoid the greats or ignore their insults.

This particular attention which aims to welcome and reformulate is called active listening and is a method used by many coaches and psychologists. We did the same, when Joy later said she didn’t like school anymore.

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Take the time to ask questions to properly prepare for the start of kindergarten

The small kindergarten section finally went well and for its return to the middle section, we remained attentive. She knew more what to expect, she knew she wouldn’t be in the same class anymore, nor with the same teacher, and maybe not with her friends. One weekend at the end of the school holidays, although she did not seem in any way anxious by this new start in kindergarten, I opted to ask her the simple question: “You know that next Tuesday is the first day of school. class ! Are you happy? Are you a little scared? (With a tone that leaves him unashamed to choose the second option).

  • “Yes I’m afraid” (as much to tell you that I did not expect this answer!)
  • “It’s okay to be afraid. You know, everyone is a little afraid at the start of the school year, what are you afraid of? »(I rephrase her feelings, so that she feels understood)
  • “I’m scared to go to the thing where daddy goes at night… You know… I don’t know what it’s called anymore.” “
  • ” Is that so ? Uh… Dad, in the evening… He can go to the swimming pool… to bars to see friends… to work? “
  • “No, that’s not it… You know the thing I went to too!” “

After careful consideration, I finally find it! ” At the movie theater ! “. ” Yes !!!! I’m afraid of going back to school, because I don’t want to go to the movies! “

She was confusing with the recreation center… Yes, it’s worth it to understand our children’s fears and let them express them! Because if we had answered Joy “No, it’s going to be great, don’t be afraid!” », We would have missed the mark …

Keep sanity and contact with the master or mistress

Of course, children’s problems sometimes seem trivial to us and they get used to it quickly! This does not mean that we should deny their concern. And in the opposite extreme, making a mountain out of every little problem won’t help our child break away from it! As we have seen, these little apprehensions sometimes deflate on their own when they are expressed.

Sometimes it can last or even set in. No need to wait for school phobia to talk about it. Discussing it with the teacher in the presence of the child can sometimes shed light that will facilitate the relationship. And for lack of necessarily being able to “solve the problem”, this will allow the teacher / teacher or the ATSEM who also intervenes in the class to be more attentive to the specific needs of our child …

The start of the new school year will not necessarily be “easy” or “simple” and I do not wish you a “good” return at all costs, but I hope that it will be full of complicity.