Back to kindergarten: how to manage your first start?

The start of kindergarten is a big event for toddlers, and it is often impressive. What are they doing, and how can you help them navigate their very first back to school? Advice from Myriam Szejer, child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

  Back to kindergarten: how to manage your first start?

Kindergarten: at what age?

[Updated August 22, 2022 at 12:17 p.m.] In France, education is compulsory from the age of three , which therefore corresponds to the small kindergarten section . It helps prepare future students for learning in elementary school, which begins with CP from the age of 6. The kindergarten is divided into three sections: the small section, the middle section and the large kindergarten section (cycle 1).

Can children under the age of three be accommodated in kindergarten?

If your child is 2 years old when school starts , it may be admitted under certain conditions, in particular within the limits of available places, and as a priority in urban, rural and mountain areas, in overseas departments and regions or in disadvantaged social environments. Your child will stay in kindergarten until they enter elementary school, when they turn 6 years old.

What is the start date for kindergarten?

The return to kindergarten takes place on Thursday, September 1, 2022, like other classes.

Kindergarten: what program and activities?

Nursery school aims to make children want to go to school to learn, by stimulating their curiosity through games, discoveries and sensory, motor and relational experiences. For example, teachers can offer construction and manipulation games, board games, games to make, but also physical and artistic activities to invite young schoolchildren to act and express themselves.

How to prepare for your first start of kindergarten?

This is the whole your child's first school year . Also, it all depends on whether he has ever been to day care or to a nanny with other children. If so, he's already used to it. separation and some group life . All that remains is to explain to him that a single adult will take care of all the children (the mistress) and that he must obey her. Otherwise, the change is huge. Clarify the situation well: you are not getting rid of him, he will go to school every day like you or your husband go to work; the mistress will organize games and activities what to do; he will learn to live with others... Make it clear that you are proud that he is starting school. Without putting pressure on him. Kindergarten is above all made for learning to live with others and developing one's imagination.

You must tell your child that no parent is staying and who will be picking him up in the evening. You should also find out whether or not you can let your little one her pacifier and comforter in the backpack . Each teacher decides the fate of the stuffed animals and other 'totottes' at the start of the school year and it is better to be warned to avoid seeing the cherished object land in a closed chest on D-Day.

Back to Kindergarten and Potty Training: What if my child is still in diapers?

Teachers, if they tolerate accidents at the beginning of the year, are also entitled to refuse a child if he is not fit for the start of the school year . To make sure everything goes well, reassure your child by explaining to him that in case of concern, we will not scold him and we will help him to change. At the same time, if you're worried about it happening, talk to the mistress and plan a clean outfit in the school bag. Finally, if you can visit the school before (or at least go there the day before), it will allow your little one to visualize and therefore better understand their return to school.

Back to kindergarten: what attitude to adopt on the 1st day?

“I advise mothers to give way to dads that day . In our cultures, their role is 'separator'. Children react differently to their dad: less whims, more pride, everything you need to get through it! In any case, the parent should not drag out the goodbyes, come back for a 'last hug' or worse start crying! ' advises Myriam Szejer, child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. This is the best way to reactivate grief and keep the child in a distressing situation. 'Just say firmly 'I'm going, see you later', kiss your little one while keeping a smile on your face and leave without looking back and without watching the first hours of class out of the corner of your eye' , she specifies. If the separation nevertheless takes place in tears , know that the majority of school children calm down as soon as their mother leaves school. Ask the mistress. If the phenomenon persists, it may be a sign that your little one is not ready and that you have to wait a while longer to put him in kindergarten. Very important: be punctual when leaving school. A delay can generate a feeling of abandonment and distress. At worst, notify the school so that the child is aware of your impediment and can be patient.

Our tips for starting kindergarten for the first time:

What if my child does not eat in the canteen?

Food symbolizes the link to mother and home par excellence. So it's a complicated question. Say if the child refuses to eat at school , you should not force it and rather consider that it is not ready for this change. The only solution: to make sure that it eat a balanced and hearty breakfast before leaving and slipping a snack into his school bag in case he gets hungry during the day.

No kindergarten friends?

At the age of discovering the other, it is normal for your child to take some time to feel comfortable in a group . Especially if he has not been in contact with children his age so far and does not know anyone in his school. Do not panic and avoid asking too many questions. Listen to it without getting tangled up. Let him manage if he is bothered and only intervene in the event of a major problem. His attitude may also reflect his anger towards you. He pisses you off because you leave him at school every morning. Don't feel guilty and let time pass. On the other hand, do not riddle him with questions and let him appropriate his new space without you. In a few days, there will be plenty of new friends to play with!

What if he didn't love his mistress?

There's no point in lying to yourself your child may very well come across a teacher with whom contact goes badly. In this case, do not question their feelings, which in themselves have value, and show that you understand their discomfort. There is no point in agreeing with him and openly criticizing his mistress, especially if you do not agree. Explain that he will have different teachers each year throughout his schooling and that the relationship will be more or less good, but that there is no other choice but to adapt. Finally, also tell yourself that toddlers rely on their very first feelings. In a few days, and as long as the teacher congratulates your child, he will surely have changed his mind.