Things Parents Got To Be Prepared for First Week of Playgroup

It has been almost two weeks since Ayra, our first child, enters Playgroup. This is my first experience as a parent to prepare my girl for school. And I thought it would be easy, and I was wrong. Being the first child, Ayra got a lot of attention from everyone at home. With little exposure to sharing anything or anyone with her since birth, entering a Playgroup environment is kinda intimidating for a 28 months young girl.

Here is our experience from the first seven days of school and some things to note for those who are preparing your child for their first full-day childcare.

Preparing for THE 1st day can be a long process.

I started preparing Ayra and myself for THE day a month in advance, from shopping for the necessary stuff to exposing Ayra to school related books and activities. Assuming there was no books for childcare, I bought a backpack which after the first day got "kicked" out of school. If you are wondering what a 2.5yo need to bring for a full day childcare, here is the standard list provided by myfirstskool.

  • 2 sets of clothes/ uniform

  • 6 pieces of diapers or 2 pieces of underpants for those who are toilet trained

  • Comb or hair brush

  • Milk bottle and formula milk (if necessary)

  • 1 bedsheet

Doesn't seem a lot right? But when you put them all together, the small backpack just doesn't hold them well. So after the first day of school, we got Ayra a new trolley bag.

[box]TIP: Get your child to pick his/her school bag. This will encourage them to want to carry/pull it to school.[/box]

Day 1: Oh-so-fun! A new playground?

First day of school is oh-so-fun! Mummy was around and there were so much to play and explore. Ayra did well on the first day without any tears. In fact, she told me she love going to school and want to go back again. However things turned for the worst as the days passes...

Learning to play and share with others

On the second day of school, Ayra jumped out of her bed at 6am and was looking forward to go to school. She let me changed her and couldn't wait to pull her new school bag. With Mummy around, nothing is to be afraid of, and this girl seemed all well and brave on the second day. There were few other kids who started school on the same day and were crying and throwing tantrum for 2 days even with their parents around. So comparatively, Ayra did very well. Mummy was pleased.

Day 2: When the Parent sneaked away in the middle of the day.

Expect a calmness before a major storm

Playgroup is for playing, and so she thought.

Day 2 in childcare without Mum for the second half of the day went pretty ok. Some crying when she didn't see me after nap but eventually calmed down with distractions by the Teachers. When she saw me at the door at the end of the day, she could not hold her emotion any more and broke down immediately. She just wanted to dash into my arms and get out of school. Makes Mummy's heart ached and that's when my heart melted and questioned myself if this girl was ready for school.

And then came the first weekend of Ayra's childcare days. Not a very good year to have 2 days of school and then another 2 days without. The kid has not settled into a new routine and it was broken too quickly. We were prepared to start from square one come Monday.

[box]Day 3
You woke up immediately when I told you it's school time. And you entered the school on your own knowing your routine and ate breakfast on your own. Now mummy is outside hiding, watching you play. Be good and well my baby girl. You will love your companion in school.

The third day of school after the weekend seemed a little fresher for her and when I thought she had comfortably settled down already and had a sigh of relieve.

She survived Day 3 with some tears nevertheless but Teacher said she did well. Ayra even came home with "presents" (she called them that) from two of her classmates' birthdays.[/box]

Day 4: With updates from the Teacher via Whatsapp

[box]Day 4 - First day without the Mum
The strong and brave girl when into hiding today. Not wanting to let mummy go and cried super loud when I left her after her morning routine check at the school entrance. Pains me to walk away like that, but she needs to learn to be alone without mummy at PG. Hope this phase passes quickly and smoothly. Mummy was feeling rather depressed.

Must be super tiring for a toddler in playgroup. Ayra KO by 7pm last night till 6am and now she KO for the day already. Hope she doesn't pull her hourly milk stunt again tonight. Last night was tiring for me.[/box]

Not sure her tiredness came from too much playing, too little nap time or too much crying. When I saw her exhausted self laying in bed, it made my heart aches again. I silently hope she will eventually get used to the new routine and will enjoy school and treasure our home time together.

[box]Day 5 - The Shitty Day
The morning drop-off went pretty well with only a short wave of crying. Mummy left after seeing that you have settled down and in good company of your teacher. You didn't seem like your usual self when I came to pick you. Instead of dashing to me happily, you were very calm and slow. You gave the teacher a hug before you left and when I came down to give you a big hug, I knew why you were so calm. There was poo in your diaper! I hope it wasn't from too early of the day and no one detected it when in school.

You didn't share much about your day in school and instead just did your own things when you're back home. Soon you KO in bed.[/box]

[box]Day 6 - The Refusal
You refused to leave home for school. No matter what I said to you, you still refused. Told you I'll drive you to school in Ayah's car, you nodded and off we went. Tears started to flow again when you saw the school entrance. Sorry baby girl you have to go through this, I know it will past very soon. Hang in there and be strong Ayra! We love you! Mummy was feeling hopeless.[/box]

[box]Day 7 - Ayra's favorite Teacher was on Leave
The morning was tough. Lots of talking and pacifying was required to get her off the bed and out of the house. She even tried to push me back down to sleep with her when I tried waking her up. And when she saw the school entrance again tantrums and tears flew.

The day went by without her trusted Teacher as she was on leave that day. No one was there to hold her hands when she needed comfort. But I'm glad she has grown to trust another teacher in school, and will give her a hug before she left school with me.[/box]

That rounded up her first 7 days in playgroup. It wasn't as smooth sailing as I had hoped for, but we managed to survive it together and I thought Ayra was slowly getting used to our new routine. Much persuasion and reasoning was required and a lot of energy is spent just getting her out of the house. When the weekend came and gone, it was Monday again but this time our tough 7 days of initial routine was distributed and things turned rather messy and ugly.

The eighth day at playgroup was a very stressful day for me. Didn't help as I had just started working in a new company too and had to adjust my own routine from the long stress free maternity leave. By the time I settled down at my work desk, half of my energy were gone already.

[box]Day 8 - The broken routine
Everything we put through for the first 7 days in playgroup was crashed because of a broken routine from the morning of Day 8. It didn't help that it was also the Monday before a weekend of fun time with the family. Ayra woke up as usual refusing to go to school. But eventually she let me change her and prep for school. Before we could do our usual routine of me explaining to you why we are sending you to school, giving you the same assurance I always give in the first 6 days of school; all these routine were broken with an unexpected visit from Grandpa that morning.

Instead of walking down together with Mummy holding your hand and you pulling your trolley bag along the way, you were carried to school. Instead of saying goodbye at the school door, you were accompanied into the school with Grandpa by your side and carrying you through breakfast. What happened thereafter I am not sure. But from what I was told, your day was totally ruined by our broken routine. Mummy was feeling super depressed since the call from Grandma and couldn't concentrate on anything else but waited for the time to past till time to pick you up.

I had looked forward to greeting you at the school gate and giving you the thumbsup and applause when I see a smiling girl dashing towards me. But instead, Grandpa brought you back after nap time cause he said you were too traumatized in school. I blame the whole mess on our broken routine.[/box]

This broken routine is going to be a huge challenge for us in the next few days ahead. With you insisting that Mum stays with you and you refusing to go to school, I know it is going to be even harder to calm you down and is going to take an even longer period for you to finally get used to this new routine of ours.

[box type="2Getting your kid settled in school is best done with the same routine for as long as possible, till the kid is able to enter school without any resistant. We failed at this within the first 2 weeks and the consequences is to calm a crying child every day.[/box]

After a week of school, Ayra did not seem to enjoy it as the days passes (or at least that's how she is showing us). She used to love washing hands as she can play with water, but just today, she refused to do it and had a huge melt down just because of that. May be due to the fact that every morning after she washes her hand in school, Mummy is gone from her sight. She will keep chanting "I don't want to go school." and gets all emotional and clingy to me when I mention going to school.

Till the day when Ayra finally settles down 101%, I will never have a full peace of mind in whatever I do.

It's only the 3rd week of 2014 and I'm totally burned out already. In desperate need for energy boast and lesser stress from all the negative ions in the family.