The day finally came for Faith to attend school and it was quite an experience for me! The weeks leading to the commencement of school saw me preparing the little one for her new adventure. We talked a lot about going to school, how her cousins love learning in school and read relevant storybooks. We even got her to wear her school uniform and carry her own bag. Trial run!
So, the little one had mentioned that she wanted to go to school all these while when I asked her. she sounded enthusiastic but I know I would meet with obstacles on the first day. Faith had never attended any drop-off classes and while she had attended multiple playdates, I was with her all the time. This time round, I have to disappear from the scene and I wonder how she would react.
Thankfully, the school has allowed parents to be in the class for 3 days to slowly transit the young kids. We were advised to leave the classroom once we felt that we were ready to let go and let the school staff handle. I thought this is thoughtful of them. They must have realised that the parents are equally anxious (if not more!) as the children.
On the first day, I assured Faith that I would be back for her after 3 hours and bade her farewell. She nodded her head and I left, with her sitting at the assembly area. And she didn’t move AT ALL. She sat there, frozen, with her hand clenched. That pose remained for a good 10 minutes before she wailed.
I knew she was trying to control herself from crying but in the end, she couldn’t hold the tears any longer. I reached out to her ( I was hiding behind a wall all along!) and calmed her. Thankfully, she cooled down after a short while and joined in the activities.
I’m thankful that the principal was very hands-on and reached out to Faith. She made her feel at home and stayed by her side. I guess Faith just needed to be with a constant figure and to know that she is safe. I tried to be away from her sight when she was engaged with the activities, preferring to have the teachers tend to her instead of having me by her side.
The first day ended on a pretty good note. When I asked her if she liked school, she replied positively.
On the second day which was the following Monday, she entered the premise with resistance. The fact that there was another boy who was crying non-stop didn’t help the situation. The teacher whisked the crying Faith in and I left the school quickly. When I picked her up, I was told (by the principal) that she stopped crying after a while and just needed to be with someone she’s familiar with. That day, all the other parents stopped short of entering the classroom which helped in transiting the children.
On the third day, Faith hugged and kissed me goodbye and into the classroom she went. There was a little tearing and reluctance but that’s about it.
Fourth day? No tears. Hallelujah!
Honestly, I thought it would be a whole week of drama for me and I have mentally prepared myself for this episode. But, it has turned out to be so much better than I had expected. The first two days were difficult. So much separation anxiety for both kids and parents alike. I was sharing with another parent that I felt so bad to have enrolled Faith in the school at such a young age and the parent (a SAHM) agreed. Both of us were guilt-laden. I guess we were not the only ones, right?
Children are highly adaptable beings and once there is consistency in routine, they will be all right. I guess when the children see the same people every day and know that they can be safe in that environment, they will ease up and enjoy the activities and company of others. Each time Faith came out from the classroom, she would recount what she had gone through (in her own ways, of course) that day. It is indeed a joy to see her enjoying school. The principal told me that a girl who is a year older than Faith kept looking out for her and when Faith was sad, she could go over and comfort her. Oh, how sweet!
I learnt to let go and to have faith in the school. The staff members have dealt with the same situation every year and they would know what to do.
“Do you like school?”
“Do you want to go to school?”
An enthusiastic ‘yes’.
School isn’t that bad after all.