How our little one's take to starting big school can be quite unpredictable, and this was most certainly the case with my almost five year old. After two years of Montessori and playschool, I was definitely banking on a first day of excitement, confidence and her pretty much twirling into the classroom without a glance goodbye. However, the girl I thought would be forming the first Junior Infant Alpha Omega sorority in her first week actually fell into my lap after three days in tears - "It's too long. I worked so hard. I just want to quit." There were more tears and falling asleep from emotional drainage by 6pm that evening. My heart was genuinely sore for her. I put it down to the change and the new routine and spent the following few nights with her in a bear hug of mommy proportions while I tried to talk to her as best I could. This was difficult considering the only answer I got from 'how was school?' was 'Mum, is it ok if I say I don't want to talk about it?'
I needed a way to get her to talk - to want to talk, and this is what I did.
I picked her up each day as usual, full of hugs and kisses. and reminded her how much I missed her. On our short drive home, I would share with her a little piece of my day and ask her about hers, but just once. It was not until we were close in bed and finished our bedtime story that I would ask four simple questions -
1. Will you tell me something that made you happy today?
2. Will you tell me something that made you sad today?
3. Will you tell me something kind that someone did today?
4. Will you tell me something brave that you did today?
Each of these questions has its own purpose.
Will you tell me something that made you happy today?
The purpose of this question is self explanatory - I want her to remember the feeling of being happy that day and even if it was something that did not necessarily happen in school, it is a positive starting point.
Will you tell me something that made you sad today?
It is important to also acknowledge and validate their feelings of sadness, whether that be when she hurt her knee on yard or when his partner told him he did not want to play his game anymore - they need to know that you empathise with them.
Will you tell me something kind that someone did today?
Originally, I phrased this as 'something kind someone did FOR YOU today' but I started to notice that as the time went on, she was giving me examples of when she herself was also kind, which showed me that she was beginning to be more confident and more involved with her school friends, so we changed the question. She loves answering this the most too as she knows her Mom has a soft spot for kind gestures.
Will you tell me something brave that you did today?
I want her to know that I understand how big this change is for her and how brave I know she is being. Although, there might be repetition at times, I want her to feel courageous and like she can take on the world, one cheese dip and cracker at a time.
It may only be a month in but finishing our day with these four simple questions has helped my daughter understand and adjust. Her face actually lights up when I ask the first question before bed. Some nights the answers are short - and sound quite familiar (basically the same as yesterday's answers!) but then there are nights that they lead into so much more. Being able to recall and share these moments in her day have made her happier and more secure in the new chapter of her little life. The most important thing for me is that she knows when that bell rings, no matter what happened before it, Mom's smile is always waiting at the gate. We can talk later - first hugs!
Family | Lifestyle |