Are YOU The Reason Your Junior Infant Won't Settle?
He hasn't dropped out. Yet.
To be honest, he is adjusting to his new school situation even better than I am. I'm so proud of him in his too-big uniform and too-heavy Ironman backpack. But is it wrong that there is a small part of me, in the smallest corner of my mummy heart, that mourns the loss of his baby years?
The last few years have been a blur of wiping. Wiping bums, noses, eyes (theirs), eyes (mine), countertops, knees, sticky fingers, spills. It's so easy to get caught up in the haze of infanthood where you sometimes wish away time, looking forward to a time when they can do it all for themselves.
Then suddenly that day arrives. That day that bridges the gap from being our little boy to becoming his own little person. It's a parental tipping point and one I was not ready for.
On day one I did all the wrong things. I fussed, I hovered, I clung. The teacher eventually asked me to leave. Time to let go from being solely ours to belonging to the wider world. I remember his squished little face when he was born and how I didn't want to leave him out of my arms so I tied him to me with a blanket so he wouldn't fall out of the hospital bed at night.
The first day of school is about our children taking a VERY big step out into their own future. And it is about us, finally unwrapping that blanket.
This week when my son started school my sister sent me this poem by Christopher Logue which really stuck with me.
Come to the edge
We might fall
Come to edge
It's too high
Come to the edge
And they came, and he pushed them and they flew.
Here are some tips for those with junior infants who may need some help with that push:
1. Be organised! Easier said than done but a little organisation goes a long way to keeping the family routine on track especially in the mornings. Lay everything out the night before and encourage independence with tasks like brushing their own teeth.
2.This is a huge transition but that's what life is really like so see this as great practice. It may be easier for your little one to form connections with school friends outside of the school yard. Organise a few play dates to help their recognise more faces and has the double benefit of helping you get to know some new mum friends.
3. Emit calm and positive aura (or pretend ) It's a time of very mixed emotions for us parents. Try not to let them see how we really feel.
4. Wait until bedtime to get some information out of them about how they are settling in. Your child will be more relaxed (and eager to stall bedtime!) so more likely to want to indulge some mummy chat time. This is a great opportunity to teach them how to introduce themselves and what being friendly really means
5. Make them feel special and tell them how proud you are. It's a very daunting experience for our little superheroes.
6. Build up their security. Offer as much one on one time as you can and remind them how well they coped with a similar experience. Share your own school stories (if you can remember)
7. Let them bring a little object with them in their pocket or bag like a familiar keyring or little toy. This will represent a connection to you and can help your child focus on the object instead of the challenges of the situation they find themselves in.
8. Trust your gut feeling. Initial anxiety is normal but usually, fades after a few weeks. If your child seems unusually unsettled after a month or so it's worth making an appointment with their teacher to talk things through.
How are you finding the settling in experience? Follow the conversation and add your comments!