It's time for "big school"

By Drum Digital
31 December 2010

Starting school is a big challenge for little children. It can be a daunting and frightening experience. Often parents feel anxious too, and they don’t know how to help their children ease into the new environment.

This was how mom Zanele Nkosi felt when her seven-year-old firstborn, Dumisane, started school last year at Little Leaders pre-school in Durban North.

“Initially I was very worried ? in fact, I was petrified,” she confesses. “I didn’t know what to expect.”

Zanele is a stay-at-home mom and Dumisane had had no ex-perience of a nursery or play-school before starting Grade R. When he had to be assessed before being admitted, Zanele was even more worried.

“He’d been at home with me since he was born and even though I’d played with him, read to him, sang nursery rhymes with him and watched educational programmes on TV with him, I did wonder whether I’d done enough to prepare him for entering Grade R,” she explains.

She was delighted when he passed his assessment test and was accepted.

“Then the real challenge started,” Zanele recalls. “I read books on how to prepare him for his first day and asked friends whose children had already started school for advice. I felt overwhelmed.”

Zanele decided to encourage Dumisane by being very positive about what lay ahead. She told him he’d be making new friends and he’d be having fun and learning lots of new and interesting things.

Things started to fall into place when the school organised an open day for new learners.

“When he saw his colourful classroom and met his lovely teacher, he was very excited about going to school,” Zanele says.

His first day at school went far smoother than Zanele had anticipated because Dumisane was prepared – and so was Zanele. He helped her pack his lunchbox on the day and he knew he’d be getting a cooked lunch at school.

“I packed an extra set of clothes for him – as the school instructed – in his brand-new bag that he’d chosen himself.”

All that was left was for Zanele not to cry when she kissed him goodbye.

“I held back my tears and fortunately his dad was there to hold my hand as I waved him goodbye. In the end, going to school was a highlight for my son, as it was for me and his dad,” Zanele remembers.

See our great tips on how to prepare your child for his/her first day at "big school" in DRUM, 6 January 2011

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