Children aren’t the only ones to experience uncertainty and separation anxiety as they reach schooling age: it happens to parents as well. The best preparation is to do your own homework: meet your child’s future teachers, talk to parents who already have children in the school system, learn what mindsets the individual school (and classroom) operate under. Here are a few more things to remember when preparing your child for the primary-school experience.
Public schools these days place much emphasis on academic achievement and standardized testing, even in the primary grades. Often an unfortunate fact, but still a fact. You may want to consider alternate schooling if:
If you do opt for a school that uses standardized testing—which means heavy focus on reading and mathematics—find fun ways to reinforce these concepts at home: puzzles, counting games, read-aloud sessions. But reserve time also for art, active play, shared chores, individual free time, and other “non-standardized” but essential learning. And emphasize the value of learning, never the idea of straight A’s at all cost.
The “facts” you were taught in school may no longer be taken for granted. It can be unnerving when your child comes home with news that the science you learned has been disproven—or that historical figures you were raised to admire were also guilty of human rights violations—but it doesn’t necessarily mean the school system has been corrupted by political correctness. Rather than going on the defensive, take the opportunity to add to your child’s (and your!) education by opening a critical discussion on what the book/teacher actually says and where to find additional information.
The information bombardment of the 21st century reaches into primary classrooms. Information stimulation and scary news are probably impossible to avoid—classmates at the most sheltered private schools will show up with news apps and with rumors overheard from adults—so when your kids are home, reduce the pressure by limiting screen use, turning off the news channels, and spending family time together instead. And always be available to listen whenever a child is upset or anxious. (If anxiety is severe, medical advice may be in order.)
It’ll be worth the trouble—of finding the right school, of listening to your child’s experiences, of keeping the focus on learning and development. Whatever happens at school, you are your children’s true primary teacher—and no one can do a better job of encouraging them to grow into their unique best selves.
Note to Teachers
Especially if you’re new to teaching primary-age kids, resolve in advance to work with their naturally restless and inquisitive natures. Whatever your school’s official policies on recess or testing, always leave room for questions, independent activities such as reading, and get-up-and-move-around breaks. Don’t worry about “wasting potential instructional time.” Kids, like everyone else, do better when periodically allowed time to recharge and focus on play and/or independent thinking.
CONSIDER US FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S PRIMARY EDUCATION
Shady Oak is a private primary school dedicated to education not only in academics, but in the even more important life skills: teamwork, empathy, problem-solving, and developing individual strengths. Check out our “6 Pillars” of purposeful education, or contact us to learn more.
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!