Studies show that a child’s curiosity and creativity decline drastically by age 10 because their primary caregivers (parents and teachers, mostly) do not encourage them to ask questions but rather want them to sit still in a classroom while the teacher speaks the whole time OR keep quiet at home because the parents are too busy to answer their questions. Encourage them to ask questions because being curious about the world is a sign of a school-ready kid!
What would you feel if you were brought to a new place, without any familiar face and made to do things you haven’t done before? I would probably cry, too! Now, you may ask why the other kids aren’t crying and your child is.. Kids handle stress in various ways. I remember my eldest crying on the first day of Fourth Grade because she had just transferred schools. What makes them stop crying? A feeling of security. How do they achieve this?
- Familiarity. Preschoolers usually hate surprises! They feel more safe in familiar surroundings. Also, the more they get to know their teacher, the more familiar the teacher would be to your child. Teachers would usually calm the crying students by staying close to them during class or assigning a co-teacher to focus on those experiencing anxiety.
- Transitions and Routines. If you notice preschool schedules, it has repeating blocks of time or routines. This allows your child to expect what will happen next. Knowing this gives your child a sense of control and security.
- Positive Images. In order for school to be a happy place for your child, he should have a positive image of it. He will eventually enjoy the activities, the playground and games with classmates. Encourage him to talk about it at home by asking him about his day.
- Assurance from YOU. If your child reads stress in YOUR face as well then that will also be his prevailing emotion. Try to keep a reassuring demeanor when you are dealing with your child’s separation anxiety. Keep your statements short and clear, “Mommy, will pick you up after school.” “Mommy will leave now. Teacher will take care of you in the classroom.” Promising that you will “just be outside” or saying “I’ll give you a reward if you stop crying.”usually does not help. It gives your child a false sense of security.
- Working with your child’s school and teacher. Your child’s teacher is an expert in child development and separation anxiety. Listen to what they have to say about the issue and follow their advice on how your child can overcome it. What do teachers usually suggest?
- “Leave and Cleave” – When dropping off your child, it is best to leave as soon as you drop your child off. We had a student who cried when he would arrive in school with his mommy. Out of worry, his mommy would stay with him until classes would start. We noticed that our student would stop crying when his mom leaves. When we asked the mom to just drop him off and leave, our student had an easier time overcoming her anxiety.
- Have someone else bring your child to school. We had a case once that a student would cry when Mommy would bring her to school and wouldn’t cry when Daddy brings her. We asked Daddy to bring her for the first month of school.
In my 15 years of teaching, all our young students who experienced separation anxiety eventually overcame their anxiety after a few weeks of attending school. Believe me, they WILL stop crying… if both you and the school do your parts well. If your child is still crying after a month of going to school, it is best to ask for a meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss what further steps you may take. You may ask your school the following questions:
- How does the teacher manage crying students in the classroom?
- Do they have set routines in class?
- What is the teacher:student ratio or aside from the teacher, is their another adult who can attend to students experiencing anxiety?
- Does your child cry the whole time or are there random triggers during class? (some kids cry when teachers turn off the lights during rest time, or when it’s snack time because they’re used to their parent or caregiver feeding them)?
I received a message from a mom that voiced out what a friend told her. “A friend of mine told me not to enroll my child in a progressive school because college here in the Philippines is traditional and might not be able to cope up with the system”, said her friend. She asked my opinion about it. I got some back-up for this myth (yup, it’s a myth) from reliable and established educators and here are their answers:
“I think it’s a misnomer for parents to think that having their child establish their educational foundations in a progressive school means that they will have a hard time adjusting in college.”
“There are many students who have graduated from progressive elementary schools who have thrived in traditional high schools; and still others who have graduated from progressive high schools who have succeeded in traditional colleges and universities. What a progressive school teaches you is to be creative, open-minded, resourceful and excited about learning and new ideas. All of these attributes spell success in any educational (or working!) environment–whether you consider they traditional or progressive. I know of many progressive school alumni who have continued on to traditional high schools/colleges who know how to get along with people from all walks of life, and who still exhibit that zeal for learning new things that was imbued in them by progressive schools 🙂 There will always be a period of adjustment during that jump from progressive to traditional, but that period of adjustment is to be expected and will definitely be overcome.”
— Teacher Ani Almario, is the directress of The Raya School and the Product Development Officer of Adarna House, Inc.. She also has a Master of Arts in Education, Learning, Design and Technology from Stanford University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Curriculum Studies in the University of the Philippines.
“I have observed that college students who come from progressive schools, are more relaxed, calm, and they are Survivors ! They are very independent , but at the same time can work with peers with collaboration and cooperation. Contrary to what others are saying, I find these students coping well in college life. In fact their coping skills are better than their classmates who come from traditional schools .”– Teacher Claudette Tandoc, a family life and child development specialist. She is a professor in De La Salle University Manila College of Education. She has led several trainings about various family and child issues and have served as a consultant to a number of schools in the country.
“American philosopher and educational reformist John Dewey said that “Education is not a preparation for life, but is life itself”. It is not really college that we are preparing our grade school and high school kids for. Rather, they are already expected to be applying now whatever they are learning in school, to their own families and homes, their community, and eventually to the society. The outside world is not structured, rather, it is where individuals are “tested” on how to cope and survive using the values, knowledge, skills, talents and experiences that they have learned and imbibed.”
“There are more progressive early childhood centers compared with grade schools and highs schools in the Philippines. Some graduates of these preschools have “moved up” to traditional schools. Dr. Miriam Covar, retired Professor of the UP College of Home Economics, Dept of Family Life and Child Development conducted a study on this, and found no negative effects nor difficulties among students who transferred from a progressive school to a traditional setting.”
“On a personal note, for thirty years as an educator, I have observed that most graduates of progressive schools are happier, confident and well-adjusted individuals, who have smoothly adapted and complemented accordingly to any given situation and environment.”
— Teacher Carolyn Ronquillo, family life and child development specialist for thirty years. She spent most of these as a professor the University of the Philippines. She is currently an Associate Professor, Dept of ECE, Woosong University, Daejeon, Republic of Korea; former Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, MarylandUSA and former Assoc Prof, UP Diliman. Founding President, Asia Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association (Philippine Chapter).
“Yes, it is true that most colleges if not all follow a traditional system but I really think that most parents miss this point- about being more concerned whether their child has this sustained interest and love for learning, has a good foundation in basic life skills (critical thinking, problem-solving, etc) and has developed a set of principles and values.”
At my monthly guesting in Anthony Pangilinan’s Magbago Tayo, last Saturday, I invited Teacher Tanya Velasco of GuruFirm and author of the blog Chronicles of a Teacher Mom. She specializes in Infants and Toddlers and is also a Family Life and Child Development Specialist. We discussed how to plan a child’s environment (space and time) at home, based on how we do it in the classroom.
First the Physical Environment or SPACE. When mapping your child’s space, whether it be in his room, in the car, etc.. categorize the space by the following :
1. Map the space in specific and functional areas. We decentralize our classroom into different learning areas: a rest area, play area, activity area, reading area, etc. You can demarcate each space with furniture like a shelf or table, a mat with a distinct color or with a picture on what that area is.
Mapping your child’s space in areas will develop skills like: sorting, visual-spacing, and categorizing. He will also learn how to clean up independently because he knows where everything should go after using them.
2. Separate the quiet from the active space. Downtime is important in your child’s schedule so he needs a quiet place for activities like resting or reading. Current studies show that even adults are encouraged not to bring in work in the bedroom to improve sleep. In the classroom, the rest area is far from the manipulatives or block area. The rest area can double as the reading area, though, because they are both quiet activities.
During the show last Saturday, one listener asked what if they live in a studio? You can still do it. Teacher Tanya had a great suggestion that an area can double as a play area by rolling out a mat to cue your child that it’s play time. Then when he needs to sleep already, the mat can be rolled back and tucked away for the same area to be the sleeping area.
Now let’s plan the temporal environment or your child’s TIME.
1. Plan the day into different routines. Like the physical space, you can map your child’s day into areas or routines. Sleeping, eating, playing, etc! When we plan our students’ class schedule , we have:
- Free Play – a time when your child can explore anything he’s interested in. This is an important part of his schedule so you can observe what his favorite activities are. Do you want to totally eliminate the sentence “I’m bored!” from his vocabulary? Well, having free play strengthens his creativity in entertaining himself which sadly have been replaced by gadgets these days.
- Circle Time – It’s a time for the members of the family to converse or bond! During circle time in the classroom, the teacher calls the students over to huddle and discuss what will happen in class. At home, you should carve time where you have intimate talks with your kids, regardless of age and preferably sans gadgets!
- Activity Time – There are a lot of extra-curricular and curricular activities available for your child.. There’s sports, music, reading, writing, cooking, etc! Unfortunately, we tend to overschedule our child’s day but filling it with activities that your child may not be interested in. Observe his interests and talk to him on the activities that you will put on the schedule. If your child is too young, choose 1-2 activities from different domains like sports and cooking, art and ballet, etc. Try to see if she won’t be too tired for the classes and choose a time when she’s most awake like in the mornings. For older kids, zone in on their interests because the activities available for them can be pricey. If he’s enrolling in guitar class, purchase an inexpensive guitar first because he may switch instruments or drop his interest altogether.
- Play Time – the most underrated block of time is play time. This is different from Rest Time because if you haven’t seen a child play, it is not restful!
2. Make use of Transitions. When moving from one routine to another, use transitions or prep them to move to the next routine. Teacher Tanya’s toddler Ellie knows when it’s time to pack away her toys and move to her rest time, because Teacher Tanya counts to 10 or sings a song that prompts Ellie. Young children find comfort in knowing what will happen next. The only reason a crying students stops crying from separation anxiety in school is because the routines and transitions are done consistently.
It’s interesting that while discussing this topic, we were able to also give tips to the parents as well! Planning your own SPACE and TIME as parents or teachers, is not so different from the points we talked about.
For more of Teacher Tina’s Parenting Tips, tune in to Magbago Tayo every Saturday at 8 am, Channel 59 and 92.3FM Radyo Singko.
Mommy Mundo, the go-to resource portal for active, modern moms in the Philippines, presents the first talk in its MomSchool series on March 21, 2015 (9:00 am – 12:00 nn) at The Forum, Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City.
I’m so excited to be part of it as I give tips on How to Find a School, Comparing Traditional and Progressive Schools and How to be a Partner to your Child’s Teacher. With me will be Ryce Calunsag of Learning Libraries who will be discussing How to Raise a Bilingual Child.
Participation is FREE! Please text 0908-865-7245 to register.
Hope to see all the followers of this blog so I can answer all your questions in person!
After a year and a half in DZMM‘s Kapamilya Konek, I was invited by inspirational speaker Anthony Pangilinan to be a monthly guest and weekly contributor to his weekly Radyo5 show, “Magbago Tayo!”, a show that inspires change in all aspects of life.
As for my weekly contribution, the show has a short segment to present Teacher Tina’s Parenting Tips. As Family Life and Child Development specialists, teachers are not only experts in school but are advocates of the forging of parent-child relationships at home.
Since it was the week of the Chinese New Year, my tips were based on quotes from the movie Mulan (a favorite of my kids!) :
These tips can be seen by watching “Magbago Tayo!” at TV5 Channel 59, can be heard in FM 92.3 every Saturday at 8:00 am and can be read on this blog 🙂
Raya High is the answer! One of the country’s premier progressive schools, The Raya School, led by power educators Ani Almario and CP David has finally decided to open a high school. Most progressive schools in Manila offer preschool and elementary levels only but they took the plunge and moved forward.. paving the way for all of us to follow suit in the future! That’s great news for most parents and progressive elementary schools whose graduates are looking for a similar learning environment. Teacher Ani spoke to the parents of our graduating class to share their philosophy and goals for Raya High and presented this diagram: They will start their high school in their current location at 109 Scout Fernandez, Quezon City and will eventually move to their new campus in Fairview, QC by 2017. For inquiries regarding Raya High, you can call the Raya School at 922.9254.