Mar 07

How to Soothe a Teething Baby?

teething babyA baby’s first year is full of joy and giggles, but there will also be days when your wee one is cranky and crying. The irritability and achiness that accompanies the teething stage of development can sometimes be more painful for parents than for your infant.

Symptoms can include trouble sleeping, sore gums, and loss of appetite, as well as the urge to chew on anything and everything. While many options may seem hopeless, here are some remedies that can help soothe your baby’s sore gums:

• Try a gum massage. Use a clean finger, moistened gauze pad or damp washcloth to massage your baby’s gums. The pressure can work to ease the discomfort.

• Invest in a teething toy. Try a rubber liquid-filled teething ring to relieve the need for chewing.

• Keep it cool. A cold washcloth or chilled teething ring can be soothing.

• Find chilled foods. If your baby is eating solid foods, cold items such as applesauce or yogurt are good choices.

• Use a clean cloth. Excessive drooling is par for the course for the teething process, help prevent skin irritation by keeping a clean cloth handy to dry your baby’s chin and opt for absorbent sheets for bedtime.

• Look for a pain reliever. Try homeopathic medicines such as Camilia which use medicinal ingredients like German chamomile for relief of teething pain and irritability, Poke for soothing painful gums and Chinese rhubarb for help with minor digestive disorders, like diarrhea, sometimes associated with teething. Developed specifically for babies and toddlers, Camilia is made with sterile water and contains no sugar, colouring or preservatives.

Keep in mind, these homeopathic medicines may not be right for everyone, always read and follow the label.

More information on teething is available at

Feb 07

Valentine’s Day Activity Ideas For Kids

Love Cookies!

Love Cookies!

The origins of Valentine’s Day may be steeped in mystery, but by now, it has become one of the most commercial days of the year. In fact, after Christmas, there are more cards for Valentine’s Day than for any other. Like it or not, it’s unavoidable, and sooner or later your kids are going to wonder what it’s all about!

So what do you say to them? After all, depending on your point of view, it’s generally seen as a celebration of romance, commercialism, a day both celebrated and dreaded by teens and adults alike. Where do kids fit in to Valentine’s day?

Let’s look at it another way, and say that it’s a celebration of love. For kids, love is an innocent thing. They love their family, their friends, maybe even their teacher. So let’s use that as a starting point, and what symbolises love better than a heart. For kids, a heart is a perfect icon, especially as it’s so easy to draw. Now that we have a starting point, let’s involve them in their own special Valentine’s Day!

Love Cookies!

With a few heart-shaped cookie cutters, baking can be a great activity to do with your kids. The trick is to keep it as simple and foolproof as possible. Here is a nice quick cookie recipe that works great, even if you’re not too comfortable with cooking!

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C / 338°F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add ¾ cup / 150g / 6oz self-raising flour, ¼ cup / 50g / 2oz caster sugar and ¾ cup / 150g / 6oz of butter.
  3. Optionally, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, or 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
  4. Now get the kids’ aprons on and let them mix it all together with their hands. Explain to them that they should rub the butter between their fingers with the dry ingredients, to try and make ‘breadcrumbs’.
  5. Depending on how much mess your kids make, the mixture may be too dry or too moist. Just balance it out with more butter or flour to compensate.
  6. Squeeze all of it together in a big ball, and it should stay in one piece.
  7. Use a rolling pin to flatten it to a thickness of about ¼ inch.
  8. Let your kids use the cookie cutters to make lots of heart shapes and carefully place each onto a lightly greased baking tray. Leave lots of room between each heart because they’ll grow!
  9. If you want, you can let them press little candies into each heart. Alternatively, you can add some red or white frosting and sprinkles after they’ve cooked.
  10. Now pop them in the oven for around 20 minutes, and transfer to a wire rack for cooling.

I tried this with my kids last weekend, and even with my questionable baking skills, we got through it intact. Actually, these cookies were delicious! In all, we spent an enjoyable 45 minutes making them, and it was a great way of spending time with my kids.If you really don’t think you can handle baking, there are other ways of using your heart shaped cookie cutters. Simply make some toast, let the kids cut it into heart shapes and spread some strawberry jam or jelly on top. A perfect Valentine’s Day breakfast treat that the kids will love to help with!

Valentine Card Idea: Cutout Red Paper Hearts with Hand Drawn Arrows

Valentine Card Idea: Cutout Red Paper Hearts with Hand Drawn Arrows

Arts & Crafts

After seeing love hearts in every shop they visit, it’s easy to convince your children to make some themselves. Just get some colored paper, fold it in half, then cut out half a heart shape. Unfold it and you’ll have a perfectly symmetrical heart! Make sure that any scissors you use is appropriate for your child’s age, and then let them at it. Suggest alternative ideas, like cutting out lots of smaller hearts from a single sheet.

Once they’ve tired of cutting, use their hearts in a variety of creative ways. If you’ve used lots of different colors, even simply putting them all on the wall can look great. Try sticking photos of each child on their own heart, or getting them to writing their name. You can also buy blank greeting cards, so if you stick a heart on the front, it becomes a cute little homemade Valentine’s card.

What should they write on the inside? Use your imagination, and keep it personal. Perhaps ask them who they are sending it to, then get them to write (or dictate to you, if they can’t write yet) all the things they love about that person. It can be very moving to receive something like that!

And don’t overlook the leftovers! If you cut a heart out of a piece of paper, you may be tempted to keep the heart, and throw the rest away. However, try and think of other uses for it, like a photo frame!

Have Fun!

There are lots of ways to get your kids involved in Valentine’s Day, limited only by your imagination. It’s also a great opportunity to do activities and spend some quality time with your kids. If you’re a bit jaded by any of the commercialism surrounding February 14th, get your kids involved, and you’ll start to see it in a whole new light!

Mick McMullin is the author of the website [] which he set up to discuss and review all sorts of kiddie-related stuff, as well as general parenting articles.

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Oct 25

Teaching Kids About Bees – Fun Tips and Ideas

A lot of kids find bees fascinating and frightening at the same time. Because bees have the ability to sting, most kids have a healthy respect for these interesting insects. It’s important to teach kids about bees so they can appreciate them, and also so they won’t be afraid of them. Since children are naturally curious about these incredibly disciplined and highly organized creatures, they are going to be very interested and excited to learn about this amazing insects. Because of this, the teaching job will be so much easier for you.



What To Teach Children About Bees:

* How many different types of bees there are throughout the world.
* Where bees live and the different types of bees that live in the bee colony, such as the worker bees, drones and the queen bee.
* How bees communicate to each other using the waggle dance.
* What pollination is and how bees do this when they transfer pollen from flower to flower.
* How bees make honey and honeycombs.
* What bees eat.
* That bees are the only insects in the world that make food that people can eat.
* What beekeepers do and how important their job is.
* Healthy facts about honey.
* How bees are important to our ecosystem.
* How bees are being threatened by pesticides today.

jar of honey with honeycombDifferent Flavors of Honey

Children will enjoy learning about the different kinds of honey. Teach them about the nutritional differences between processed honey and raw honey. Tell them about the different flavors of honey and how the nectar from different flowers can influence the honey’s flavor.

Honey Farms

Taking kids to a honey farm is great idea. This gives children a firsthand look at all of the details that go into honey production. Look online for a honey farm in your area and give them a call to see if they offers tours for children. Kids will certainly get a big kick out of seeing honeycombs up close. This will be a trip that they certainly won’t forget and hopefully, they will have an appreciation for bees as they grow older.

Cooking with Honey

Kids really do enjoy making delicious things in the kitchen so why not involve them in making a bread or cookie recipe that uses honey? There are lots of recipes for cooking with honey so you won’t have any trouble finding one that your family will like.

Kids Books

You can find many books today that are geared for children about bees. Your local library may have a good selection of books on bees and honey. Learning about bees is certainly an important project for kids because bees are a big part of our world. After all, it’s never too early to teach kids about the wonders of the bee world.

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Oct 23

Got Fright? Kids’ Halloween Party Ideas

Preparing for HalloweenLooking for a fun – and safe – way to celebrate Halloween with your children? Try throwing a Halloween party, loaded with lots of fun games!

There’s no better way to celebrate Halloween than throwing a party for your children and their friends! But how will you keep them busy? Try some of these classic Halloween party games – or invent a few of your own! These are great ideas for classroom use as well.

Wrap the Mummy
Divide the children into groups of three to five kids. Select one child in each group to be a mummy. Then give the other children a roll of toilet paper or crepe paper. Have them wrap the mummy with the paper, leaving the eyes, nose and mouth uncovered. The first group to finish (using the entire roll of paper) wins.

Pass the Pumpkin
This game is very similar to “hot potato”. Have the kids sit on the floor in a circle. Give them a small pumpkin to pass around. Play Halloween music as they pass the pumpkin. Stop the music at irregular intervals, and whoever is holding the pumpkin is out. The game continues until one person is left with the pumpkin.

Pin the Nose on the Pumpkin
Make a large cardboard pumpkin and secure it to a wall. Taking turns, blindfold each child and give them a cutout shape of a nose, prepared with double-side tape on the back. Spin the blindfolded child three times, then have them try to pin the nose on the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Penny Toss
Carve out a large pumpkin, leaving a wide opening at the top (or use a plastic pumpkin). Give each child a handful of pennies. Have them stand an appropriate distance from the pumpkin and try to toss the pennies in, one at a time. For each penny that makes it in, give the child a piece of Halloween candy or other small treat.

Ghost Waiter
Prior to the party, set up a simple obstacle course. Divide the children into two or three teams. Taking turns, each child has to balance a balloon on a paper plate while walking it down the obstacle course and back to their team. (Have one child from each team begin at the same time). The first team to have all members complete the obstacle course wins.

Get your child’s Halloween party started (at home or at school) with these classic games – and get ready for everyone involved to have a howling good time!


About the author:

Heather L. Clark is a Web researcher and writer based in Omaha, Nebraska. Check out her favorite sources for printable calendars and online calendars.

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Looking for more children’s craft ideas?  Visit our Crafts section for more Crafts for Kids!

Oct 18

10 Important Halloween Trick Or Treat Safety Tips

Trick Or TreatingWhen it comes to Trick or Treat Halloween night, it is important to sit down with your children ahead of time, and go over some safety tips. After you discuss the tips with your child, give them a mini quiz to make sure they fully understand the importance of following your guidelines.

Here are 10 safety tips you need set into motion for Trick or Treat Night.

1. Children should always be accompanied by a responsible adult, preferably the parent. Your child needs to listen to the adult that is accompanying them.

2. Give children flashlights and glow sticks so that others can see them coming. Instruct your child to use them while outside.

3. Instruct your children to never go inside another person’s home, they are to remain outside the front door.

4. Let them know that they can not eat any candy until they get home. This will allow you time to inspect the candy to make sure its sealed and hasn’t been tampered with.

5. When possible, children should walk in groups or in pairs. They should never be out alone.

6. Have a preplanned route and go over that route with your child. If you accidentally get separated, mark off a few spots where you can rejoin up.

7. Every year, children get hit by cars on Halloween night. It is better for your child to walk than to ride their bicycles when out Trick or Treating.

8. If your child is wearing a mask with their costume, make sure the mask properly fits and is not obstructing their view. Personally, I prefer face paint and hats, over full frontal face masks for safety reasons.

9. Go over stranger danger safety tips with your child before they go out. Instruct your child to never get in a stranger’s car.

10. Children need to remain on well lit streets and on the sidewalks. They should never be running through dark yards or playing on the street or intersections.

By being prepared ahead of time and talking with your child about Trick or Treat night safety tips, you can have a fun and safe Halloween evening.


Shelly Hill is a mother and grandmother living in Central Pennsylvania. Shelly enjoys the Fall season with her family. You can contact Shelly online at for additional parenting tips and articles or her recipe blog at for free family-friendly recipes.

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Oct 12

Feeling Overwhelmed With Household Cleaning Tasks? Get The Family Involved!

Family CleaningIn this day and age, we all lead very busy lives. As a mother and a wife, my typical day starts with breakfast, getting the kids ready for school, then it’s off to work only to return home 8 hours later completely exhausted. Who has time to clean?

When the weekend finally rolls around, I have just enough time and energy to do just my basic cleaning. After the weekend is all said and done, most of what I wanted to accomplish, didn’t get done. As I sit and ponder this maddening cycle of cleaning and re-cleaning my home, I realized that there has got to be a better way of getting everything done!

I decided to come up with a new game plan and this time, it involves everyone in my family pitching in and helping, after all, I am not the only one who lives here! I sat down and drafted up a list of all household chores that needed to be done on a weekly basis and decided who would best be suited to accomplishing that task. Once my list was made, I conducted a family meeting and informed everyone of the new changes. I did meet some resistance, but eventually, they all came around.

After the family meeting was done, I headed off to our local discount store to purchase some new supplies. In addition to those supplies, I picked up some plastic bins, one for each member of the family. Once I arrived home, I labeled each bin with one family member’s name and filled their bin with the supplies they would need to accomplish their assigned tasks. In addition, I wrote up a checklist of all household chores that the particular family member was responsible for and taped that to the outside of the bin. Now…there was no confusion on who was responsible for doing what!

As the weeks progressed along, we found that we all were more apt to get our tasks done. Each person had their own assigned tasks along with their own bin of supplies. We didn’t have to waste time fighting over who was doing what, nor did we waste time rooting around for our supplies. Our weekly household chores were getting done on time and there was a lot less stress going on within our home. In our household, getting more organized and having every member of the family pitch in was the answer to our ‘cleaning’ dilemma.


Shelly Hill is a mother and grandmother living in Pennsylvania who enjoys writing, crafting and spending quality time with her family. You can visit Shelly’s Shakin ‘N Bakin blog at for free cooking tips, articles and free recipes. You can visit Shelly’s Work At Home Business Options site at for free home business articles, tips, ideas and resources directed towards women who work from home.

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Sep 14

A Poem by Helen Keller

"Let them run in fields, learn about animals and observe real things."

“Let them run in fields, learn about animals and observe real things.”

I am ghostwriting a few chapters on child development right now and found that I needed to fact check a few of the points that I was writing this weekend. I have boxes upon boxes of reference materials as well as all my notebooks and textbooks from when I was in college. I was extremely organized in college and all my notes are colored coded and all my textbooks are highlighted in all the important places, which is great when I need to access some of my materials.

Anyway, as I was sorting through some of the reference materials, I came across an excerpt by Helen Keller (1880-1968) in my many handouts, that is wonderful and I wanted to share it with you. If you are unfamiliar with Helen Keller, I would strongly recommend her book, The Story of My Life. She was an amazing woman that accomplished much in her life.

This little excerpt that I am sharing with you was inspired by Dr. Montessori, the founder of the Montessori curriculum that is still taught by many schools and has been incorporated into many toys that we find on the market, but we’ll talk about models of education at some other time. For now, let’s simply enjoy the words of Helen Keller because they are very accurate and true.

“I believe that every child has hidden away somewhere in his being noble capacities which may be quickened and developed if we go about it in the right way, but we shall never properly develop the higher nature of our little ones while we continue to fill their minds with the so-called basics.

Mathematics will never make them loving nor will accurate knowledge of the size and shape of the world help them appreciate its beauties.

Let us lead them during the first years to find their greatest pleasure in nature.

Let them run in fields, learn about animals and observe real things.

Children will educate themselves under the right conditions.

They require guidance and sympathy far more then instruction.”

I know you are probably wondering why I posted this when I talk about teaching history and science and having mini projects but everything that I mention goes with the poem above. The mini projects are there to help you open up the world of possibilities for your child. When he or she opens a door to explore the life-cycle of a butterfly, having a parent who can guide him or her through the door will enable your child to learn in a way that is beneficial and fun. Remember that children learn through play and making learning an enjoyable and play filled experience will pave the way for learning as they grow.

So I hope you enjoyed Helen Keller’s words and sorry if I waxed poetic.

Sirena Van Schaik

Aug 15

The Last Days of Summer

running through the forestToday it was official, we took down the pool so it has to be the last day of summer. Okay, maybe the last day of summer is officially on September 21st and the last day of summer vacation isn’t until Monday but you can definitely feel the days winding down into a new schedule.

Already my local paper is announcing skill clinics for hockey season, the kids have most of their school items ready and hanging in their closets and I am feeling a bit lost in the end of season confusion.

It seems to have been a common thread between many parents and this topic was actually discussed only a few days ago on a writing group that I am apart of; the Writing Mothers. When the question was first asked, how are you feeling about the end of summer, I was pretty positive about it. “Oh summer’s over, no problem, I prefer fall anyways.”

Today, though; as the pool drained out (we have one of those temporary blow-up ones), I was suddenly hit by the thought, “Summer is over. Not only that but my kids are going to school in a few days. Both of them!”

I know many parents are celebrating the coming school year, I know I was looking forward to it a little bit since both of my kids have spent the last 3 weeks driving each other crazy. (I’m not exactly sure why one will want alone time while still being in the center of traffic, I swear it is only so he can scream, “Leave me alone. I want to spend time by myself!” Huh? In a crowded room?) Anyway, getting a little off topic but the main feeling was that in a few days, they won’t be driving each other crazy.

Then I realized that, wait a minute, I’ll be minus two children at home and suddenly I was left wondering if I would be okay by myself all day. I won’t have to say 20 million times a day, “Stop bothering your brother, can’t you see he wants to be alone. Stop teasing your brother, he can’t do as much as you can since he’s only 3.” And on, and on and on.

Suddenly, I am not going to be the main caregiver for both of my kids. They will shuffle off to school and I will count the minutes down until they come home; trying with all my might to get some work done. Then they will shuffle into the house and answer my question on what they did at school with a “nothing” (or as my 7 year old will say “played, learned, came home.”)

Now I am wondering where the summer went and wishing that I had spent a few more minutes with both of the kids. It wasn’t that we didn’t do a lot or spend a lot of time with each other but I know that with the summer over, the fall schedule will begin and we’ll be rushing again for school, hockey practice, karate lessons and all the other commitments that we have. To say that I am feeling a little melancholy about the end of summer is an accurate statement but hopefully, once we are back to our school year schedule, I’ll find many things to enjoy as a family.

What about you? How are you feeling about the last days of summer?

Sirena Van Schaik

Aug 02

Theorists of Child Development Part Three

girl on the meadowIf you can remember far enough back, I wrote both part one and two of this series on Theorists of Child Development.  My first post was about Freud and my second was about Erikson.  Today, I am going to take us closer to the end of this series and discuss Piaget.  If you are not sure who Piaget was, let me give you a little information about the man before I start going on and on about his theories.

Jean Piaget (1896 t0 1980) was born in Neuchatel Switzerland.  He studied the Cognitive Development of first animals then humans.  Like Freud and Erikson, Piaget believed that a number of developmental milestones occur throughout childhood.  He group his Theory of Cognitive Development into 4 stages: Sensorimotor Stage, Preoperational Stage, Concrete Operational Stage, and Formal Operational Stage.

Piaget also went on to identify Schema, which are structures that allow a child to gain knowledge.  Each level of development had a different schema such as the sucking relex in infants.  When something does not fit an existing schema, such as the first time a child eats solid food without needing to suck, it presents a problem where the child must learn to adapt.

Piaget believed that cognitive ability was an inborn trait that deals with adapting to the world around it.  He also believed that children learned through two different means.  These were assimilation, where the child learns by using and adapting an already existing schema, such as sucking moves to the developmental stage where a child mouths objects, and accommodation, where a child will change her schema to accommodate the encounter.

Now that I touched on Piaget, let’s look at each of his stages separately.

Piaget’s Stage of Cognitive Development:

  • Sensorimotor Stage:  This stage occurred during the age of birth to 2 years of age.  It is the stage where a child’s cognitive development is encouraged by the senses and the child’s movement.  Piaget went on to break this stage into 6 sub-stages.
    • Reflexes:  This is the stage when the infant is still relying on reflexes to understand the world around him.  Things like the Morro Reflex, which is when a child startles, or the Rooting Reflex, when the baby turns its head when the cheek is stroked.
    • Primary Circular Reactions: Occurs between the ages of 1 to 4 months of age and is the stage where the child will do something unintentionally but will repeat it to form a new schema.
    • Secondary Circular Reactions:  This next stage occurs between the ages of 4 to 8 months and it is when the child will use an action, and repeat it, to see a reaction from the world around him.  Things like pointing to a bottle will trigger the response of mom or dad to give her a bottle.
    • Coordination of Reactions: Occurring between 8 and 12 months, this is the stage where the child will intentionally use a schema and may begin to combine schemas together to start exploring the world around her.
    • Tertiary Circular Reaction: 12 to 18 months of age is when you will see this sub-stage and it is basically your child trying to figure out the world around him through trial and error style of learning.
    • Early Representational Thought: This sub-stage occurs between 18 to 24 months and is the period where the child begins thinking with symbolic representation.  Exploration of the world around him is no longer through actions but is through thought as well.
  • Preoperational Stage:  This stage occurs during the ages of 2 to 7 years old and it is the stage where the child’s language is significantly developed.  In this stage, children are using representational objects for the world around them and they are unable to understand concrete logic.  Piaget identified this stage of development as the one where children are egocentric.
  • Concrete Operational Stage: Occurring between the ages of 7 to 11 years old, this is the stage where children begin to develop their logical thinking.  They can understand the concrete operations of the world around them but they have a harder time understanding abstract thinking.
  • Formal Operational Stage:  This is the stage that goes from 11 years and throughout adulthood.  It is the stage where a person is able to think in abstract ways and also able to use deductive reasoning.

There are many pros and cons to Piaget’s theories and it is important to note that while Piaget had some excellent points to make about the importance of education and the cognitive development, there were some weaknesses to his theory.  One of the biggest weaknesses is the fact that most of his work focused on the development of his own children.  He also failed to consider differences in culture, emotional and personal development and also on the differences in education systems.  Lastly, Piaget often underestimated the abilities of the children that he was studying.

So there is a rather long summary of Jean Piaget.  Please check back in a few weeks and I will go over behaviourists.

Sirena Van Schaik

Aug 01

Mind over Matters: The Right Mind-Set to Start School

colored pencils

The First Day Of School. A phrase that must be written like that, because it is such an important milestone for the child -and for the parents too.

School is the place where a child may spend more of his waking time than he does in his home, not counting sleep. It is the place where he will make and break friendships; where he will mould his character further – and decide upon his future.

School is the place where parents have little or no influence over the daily interaction of a child with his peers and superiors. They may try to tell him what to do and what to say – but when push comes to shove, he must face the music alone. Talk about performance anxiety!

Education and learning are stressful enough as it is – and combined with a cocktail of new emotion, rituals and situations, the trauma and strain felt by the child, who may not be prepared for them, increases. All too often, the promised fun and games take second place. What the child sees in Orientation Day is a nice, smiling teacher – not one who is worn to a frazzle by spilled water-colors and miniature wars over toys.

To top it all, the parents’ attitudes, and feelings of anxiety, guilt or fear may be subliminally transferred to the child, who assumes that being uprooted from his home environment into the alien one is somehow “his fault” for not being “good”.

Children must never be compared with others; they absorb skills at their own rate, using their innate learning styles. It is wrong to expect a child to conform to a set of milestones, at such a tender aged. Moreover, different children bring different skills, at different levels, to the same class. Some children barely know how to put their shoes on the right feet – others can tie their laces into a perfect bow. Some may not even know numbers exist, whereas others can count to 100.

Psychotherapist David Grillo explains it in this manner:

One of the best things about staring a child off with playschool or kindergarten or pres-school is that they are not thrown in at the deep end. The fact that they don’t have to take notebooks and stuff eases them gently into the world of learning.

For some kids, especially those who fall under the youngest age bracket, the first few days can be traumatic. It is the first time that they separate for a ‘long’ periodfrom the parents. Separation anxiety is normal, and is also a part of growing up. But supporting them and ensuring that the parents, or someone with whom they identify, are home when they come back will help. It is also a good idea for both parents and not one to accompany the child to the door the first time.

These days, most teachers or kindergarten assistants are very well trained. And that makes a lot of difference.

Preparing a child for school psychologically goes hand-in-glove with the mundane preparations of uniforms (if applicable). Getting this must be a ‘special event’, with an emphasis on ‘school clothes for children who are no longer babies.’

If possible, take him with you too when you purchase his painting tabard, his lunch box, napkins and enough socks to have a clean pair each day. This is not the moment to worry that your child is gifted and will be “kept back” by the hoi polloi. That comes later.

  • Some children like to be alone with the person who is taking them to school, for the journey there. Others would prefer to be with a peer. See what works best for your child and take it from there. If the child has to take the school van, because of distances or time constraints, make sure to prepare him for this.
  • Never cajole a child into behaving like a “big boy” (i.e. ‘no tears’) because the “others” will laugh at him. This puts him on the defensive. Say, instead, that you are proud of him for actually being a good boy, even if he is bawling his eyes out.
  • Gradually change the child’s routine so that a week before school begins, he will be getting up and going to bed at approximately the times he will be doing when school commences. This gets him used to the routine.
  • Tell the child inasmuch as he is able to comprehend, that it is normal to have butterflies when starting a new school moving to a new house, or starting an new job. The idea is to get he butterflies flying in formation.
  • Getting to school should not be rush-scuttle-dash-sprint. The child can set his own alarm clock and fold his clothes neatly over the back of the chair, and make sure any stationery needed is in his bag, on the eve of each school day.
  • If you have to refer to your own childhood experiences, make sure the child cannot read anything negative in your attitude or tone of voice.
  • If the child’s school requires a packed lunch, allow the child to select what he wants to eat, and perhaps to help prepare it.

Angele Licari, psychologist, has this to say about the above:

Firstly check if you, as a parent, are psychologically prepared for your child to be leaving home to start school. I would sooner begin with preparing the parents, and not the child about the loss and attachment issues affecting both.

If you have any anxieties of your own, these can be non-verbally be transmitted to the child and become his own. If your own move to school as a child was tarnished with any negative connections, then you might assume the child would be passing through the same experiences, thus finding it hard to let go in a healthy way. Come to terms with your own un-finished past.

Every so often, check how your child interacts with other children. Check if he is clingy, jealous, rough, intimidated, insecure, or perhaps too confident, and how s/he behaves towards others in general. Consider whether the source for negative behaviors is sibling rivalry; or having a younger sibling who is allowed to stay home whilst s/he is being sent to school. Address these matters before they escalate and compound the child’s stress.

Go through the daily routine with your child so that he can visualize what school means, while at home. You can help him understand that how he leaves home, (transport etc), what things he might be doing throughout the day at school, (games, reading, playing, etc), that he would be brought back home or picked up. This is especially important. It will help him feel he can cope with new things as a matter of course.

Discuss openly how you feel; ask your child how s/he feels about the whole thing. You can say that you will miss him but that you are happy that he will now be learning new things and enjoying the company of his friends. You can ask whether he has any thoughts about the whole experience.

In a matter-of-fact way, without any drama, remind the child that if there is anything with which he cannot cope, the teacher is replacing the parent or carers during school time, until he come back to ‘home sweet home’.

Some schools allow parents to stay in the building for an hour or two during the first weeks of school, just in case anything untoward happens. Ironically, this sometimes makes the parents feel more bereft than ever; it’s as if they are extraneous – because since the child has not thrown a wobbly, it must mean that he has “forgotten all about them”.

by Tanja Cilia