When your child is due to start Montessori it’s almost scarier for the parent sometimes than it is for the child! It’s a big step for both children and parents and one that it’s best to get as prepared as you can for in advance to make sure it’s a smooth transition for everyone. My little Nathaniel is starting Montessori in September and here’s some of the steps we’ve taken in order to prepare for this next big step!
Getting them used to being away from you for periods of time.
it is important for every child to learn to separate from parents and learn to feel safe and comfortable in the presence of other trusted adults. This is critically important in preparation for school because these experiences allow the child to discover that they can stay in other environments and enjoy themselves, relaxing and trusting that mom or dad or their minder will return for them later. We’ve done a few little classes and some play groups to try get Nathaniel used to this on his own. It’s always tricky when it’s a new environment but in most instances once he’s gotten to know the adult looking after him he has settled in well.
Get them familiar with the new school
This is a really important step even if your child has been in previous childcare settings, because this is a new place to them. Lots of Montessori schools offer ‘settling in’ days in advance of when they start where you can drop them in for short periods of time or in our case where the parent comes to school too for the first three days. It’s a great way of getting to know the other children and parents in the school too!
It can be useful before they start to take time to drive by the school building at least several times so that your child begins to recognize the location and buildings.
Include the new school in regular conversation at home
It’s really helpful for kids to hear you speak of the new school at home. We keep talking about ‘big’ school to Nathaniel and now he’s excited and keeps asking about when he will start big school.
Talking about what happens in Montessori school
It can be really useful to discuss what will happen when school starts: It is comforting for children to hear what will happen, and likewise unsettling for children when changes occur for which they are not prepared. Be really positive about what you tell them to get them looking forward to the new event.
I think for most parents, myself included it’s such a big step for your little one it’s hard not to get emotional about it. They pick up on your mood so it’s really important to make your “goodbye” brief and positive. Lengthy goodbyes don’t do anyone any favours.
Make sure they are rested
It goes without saying but a well-rested child is better able to manage every aspect of life.
Get them excited with fun school bags and lunch boxes
Our house are huge Paw Patrol and Dinosaur fans. We have a lovely dino backpack all ready to go for school and some fun character lunch boxes. I still have fond memories of my own little red and white ladybug suitcase that I used to take to my Montessori. These are big things for little people so it really helps if they get things they love to bring with them and use. My goddaughter and her mom recently bought the matching Jenny backpacks and she is now so excited to use hers in school and show off that she's matching her mummy!
It's such a huge time for both children and parents. The most important thing is to give it time. Not many people (children included) like change so allow a setting in period and it will get easier!