We know how important starting pre-school education is and therefore we pay a lot of attention to adaptation. We want to support children and parents in this process. We suggest gradually familiarising the child with the kindergarten; for example, go for a few walks in our area, mention the kindergarten in conversation and talk about the interesting things that can happen there every day. Directly before embarking on the adventure with the kindergarten, it is also worth setting up situations conducive to establishing contact with other children and leaving the child under the care of other people.
The task of parents at this stage is to focus on their own attitude to kindergarten and to prepare for the separation from their child. Parents’ peace of mind and confidence in their child will allow them to cope with the child’s difficult emotions during this time. We should let the child express them but, at the same time, not strengthen them (by, for example, asking questions such as “Should I stay with you?”, “Can I go now?”, “Did you miss me?”). The task of the kindergarten is to create conditions for building trust and secure ties. Drawing from the Berliner model, in the initial stage of adaptation, we ask, among other things, about the child’s favourite play activities, their habits regarding sleep and nutrition, what the child likes and what calms them down.
It is very important for us to establish relationships with parents. We talk about their fears, organise open days and invite them to kindergarten. During the first days, the parent can accompany the child to kindergarten and stay with them in the room during certain classes. We suggest taking part in music classes or playing in the garden. Teachers observe the child at this time and slowly encourage them to participate in activities. At this stage, the parent’s task is to give the child full attention and boost their confidence, but not to force them to play with others if they are not ready.
In the next stage, the teachers try to build trust and the interaction occurs between the teachers and children only. The parent, as a companion, reacts to the child’s signals and intervenes only when the child still does not accept the teacher/place (e.g. a parent accompanies the child if they want to approach the teacher or other children, but feels the need for the parent to be present).
We help the parents to leave the room (e.g. to go the toilet, answer the phone, etc.) so that the child can stay without a parent for a few minutes. Finally, there is an attempt at separation. You should talk to your child in advance (we suggest conversations every day for two weeks before leaving the child in kindergarten) and inform them that they will stay in the kindergarten without parents. It is also worth explaining to them why it will happen and reassure them that they will be picked up every day. The key is to establish a farewell ritual, which is clear and friendly and not prolonged by the parent. The child’s reaction to the first parting will decide on the length of the child’s getting used to the kindergarten. It usually lasts from six days to two/three weeks. At this time, if possible, it is worth increasing the time spent in kindergarten gradually.
The final stage is to build the relationships between the child and the teacher, and the child and other children. Even if the child will still protest during the separation, it will be possible for the teachers to cheer them up. The parent can agree with the child on the time of picking up from kindergarten, e.g. “after lunch” or “after tea time”.The course of the day will be more predictable for the child. It is important to keep the promise and pick up the child on time. Especially in the initial period, we encourage you to spend time with your child after leaving the kindergarten, to reassure them that the bond with the parent is still strong. Each child reacts differently to parting with the parent. The first week may turn out to be problem-free, but there might be crying during the second one, especially after the weekend. It is worth noting that if a parent decides not to take the child to kindergarten because of their problematic emotions, the child will try to negotiate staying at home. It is worth trusting the competences and experience of teachers and patiently wait for the effects of cooperation.
We recommend organising time in a similar manner to our rhythm of the day and ensuring the child’s independence, for example, in the toilet, while putting on clothes, but also while having fun. We trust children and we know how many things they can do without our help, thanks to which they feel responsible for what they do and try to solve their problems by themselves. As adults, we support this independence. If the child does not use the toilet without the help of an adult, the kindergarten team will support both the toddler and parents in learning this skill.
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