One of the most natural reactions your child may have to meeting the kindergarten teacher on that first day at school is to be intimidated and afraid. The first day of school is a confusing and frightening experience sometimes if your little one has not been out in structured public situations before. The teacher will have a million things to think about and the top of the list will be to teach the children to learn the rules and the structure of school. And while there will be many days and weeks ahead for your child to get used to school, its possible it all could be very overwhelming and your baby may run home in tears that “the teacher hates me”.
Of course you know that the teacher wants only the best for your child. With time, the teacher will have time to spend with each child and that natural bond will occur. But if the first impression your baby boy or girl gets is that the teacher is their enemy and someone to fear, that bond may be slow in coming. And if the new student gets the feeling that school is a scary place where they are in danger, it could be the beginning of a lot of trouble with school down the road.
So teaching your child that the teacher is not an enemy is very important to her success on the first day of school and your child’s success in school for years to come as well. The first step in helping your child understand that the teacher is a friend is just to talk about it. Sitting with your child and visualizing together how that first day at school will be and seeing the teacher as a protector, a guide and a friend will send the child off to school with a good opinion of the teacher even before the class is called to order for the first time.
It might be helpful to work with your child to understand the relationship between authority and benevolence. You should work to help your child see that even though the teacher is setting the rules and enforcing discipline in the class, she is still the best friend and protector of the children as well. The best example your little one has of this model is, of course, mom and dad. A child has utmost trust and love for her parents. And yet she knows that it is also mom and dad who set and enforce the rules and even punish when the kids have been bad. By seeing that the role of rules maker and enforcer can be part of being a caregiver, the child can transfer the affection they have for mom and dad to the teacher and understand that role in class.
You can even take the next step in helping your child accept the role of teacher in her life by looking for a chance to go to the school and even sit in on a class just to watch what happens at school. Many schools are happy to let kindergartners that will be starting next year sit in for a day, especially if they are with mom or dad to help them feel secure. You will see some wide eyes as your child absorbs all that goes on in kindergarten. Then you can use that experience to answer a lot of questions when you get home. All of that is outstanding preparation for what the child will experience eon their first day in school.
By meeting the teacher, watching what happens in school and getting familiar with the “idea” of kindergarten, you are getting out ahead of the problem of fear and intimidation that is often big problem for children in their first day at school. The teacher your child will have in the fall will be thrilled to meet her and begin making friends with your child right away. And that short time together may be all it takes to change that teacher from an enemy to a trusted friend and a face your child will look for as soon as she goes to kindergarten that first week. And when your child sails through that first week at school, it will because you took the time to get her ready to have a great time in her first experience at school.