Some thoughts and ideas to get your child off to a great start at DRS International School!
Worried about sending your little one to school? Well, worry no more!
The first day of school is always a mixed bag of emotions, especially in the early years. From smiles, to
tears, to a stubborn refusal to enter the classroom, each child’s response to change is as unique and
unpredictable as themselves. A huge step in your little one’s life, you may be worried about how
things will turn out! There are however, a few ways in which you can help your little one transition
more smoothly, become well-adjusted and get through any change better- here are some tips and
tricks that we, at DRSIS, have observed parents try out with success:
1) Talk about it!
Begin talking about ‘it’ as early as possible and muster all the excitement you have, when you do! The
sooner you start, the more time your child will have to grasp and come to terms with the change.
Make the change seem exciting, welcome and something to aspire towards. Don’t just talk to your
child (children are very smart when it comes to picking up on marketing targeted at them), casually
talk about the ‘exciting’ change to others around you within the earshot of your child. Whatever you
do, do not just drop your child into a new class or new situation with no preparation, no matter how
busy you are. That’s the emotional equivalent of a grenade.
It is a great idea to begin telling your child stories about the change, positive stories that encounter
age-appropriate challenges with cheerfulness and excitement. Feel free to make up your own stories
at bed-time, whether its about the first day of school or relocating to a new house. Bookstores and
online booksellers also stock books about the first day of school that you can find easily. If storytelling
is not your cup of tea, try showing your child a video or cartoon about the first day of school. Include
anything in your story that you may suspect may induce stress in your child- boarding the school bus
for the first time, not finding familiar faces, using an unfamiliar washroom, communicating needs such
as thirst or hunger- and have your character resolve all these problems to have a happy ending!
Make sure your story does not end with the school day or the ‘change’, and has your character
safely returning home or to ‘normalcy’! Many times, we take things for obvious being adults. We
have seen many children struggle with separation anxiety, who do so merely because of the fact that
they had not been told that they could go home to their parents after a few hours! This is difficult for
them to understand the first time around, and has to be repeated often and pleasantly! You don’t
want your child to think he/she has been abandoned!
3) Tour the School!
It may be a good idea to tour the school with your child, a practice we encourage greatly at DRSIS.
You can do so as many as times you want, till you feel your child knows his or her way around a bit-
this can give him/her a great head-start, a sense of physical confidence and familiarity on that first
day. This strategy is equally applicable to any new place or situation. Find out from the homeroom
facilitator what your child’s daily schedule might include (breakfast in the dining hall, assembly in the
atrium, activities in the classroom, playtime in the Jungle Gym and Wonder Room, swimming pool,
skating rink and so on.) Having gone to these places with you will put your child at ease later.
Remember to take your tour in the sequence of your child’s school day and keep the commentary
running with excitement. Don’t forget to take photos!
4) Working with Photos & Visuals
Besides being great keepsakes, the photos can really help prepare your child. Display photos of the
classroom, the atrium, the wonder room, the jungle gym, the pool and skating areas, the bus bay etc
in a prominent place at home within your child’s range of vision. The fridge, a bulletin board, your
child’s bedroom wall or table might be good places to try. Resist the urge to point them out to your
child at first, letting him or her discover them and engage in conversation about the photos/school on
their own. Not only will they help familiarize him or her, it will help solidify the memory of the visit. If
you aren’t able to visit the school, don’t worry- take a look at our school gallery online or take your
5) Enact it!
Don’t shy away from a little drama! If both Mom and Dad enact the school day (with perhaps teddies
and dolls as classmates, ducky for the bus driver, Grandma as the facilitator and so on), your child will
not only be able to better anticipate the sequence of their first day as it unfolds, they will be more
thrilled to experience it first-hand! Include ‘real’ items such as the school uniform, crayons, shoes,
books etc and wear the bag and I-card yourself to make the experience more real. Remember to
include coming home (and if it goes well), going to school again the next day after sleeping at night.
This will help your child understand that going to school is not a one-off event but a daily routine
they can trust and take comfort it. Practice this play as often as you can, and gradually make your
child the ‘main character’ who gets to wear the bag and go to school!
6) Success stories!
Have an older child or a friendly neighbour or sibling with one? Have another child recount their first
day to your child (in a natural, organic way, NO ‘beta, come here! Tell him about your first day!’) and
make sure he or she mentions how much they love school (preferably DRS!), have lots of friends, toys
and fun there. Every child looks up to older children, and this may have a bigger impact than all of the
effort you make.
7) A cuddly!
Along with a snack and your child’s water bottle, pack their favourite cuddle toy or teddy bear (ensure
it’s not too big, or too distracting) in his or her bag. Having this within reach on that first day can be
incredibly reassuring for your little one, who may need to feel secure when ‘new’ things happen.
Including this toy in the story-telling or play-acting mentioned earlier can help even more!
8) Work up your own trust and confidence!
Children are way more smart than we tend to give them credit. Nobody knows you better than your
own child. They pick up on your emotions and behavioural cues, sometimes, even before you do. If
you seem overy anxious, or worried, or sad when separating from your child, this will really set alarm
bells ringing in his or her head. You staying genuinely cool, calm, confident and cheerful is very
important for both of you. Placing your trust in our team of teachers and staff, will really go a long
way. Talking to our admissions team, counsellors, coordinator or even the facilitators themselves
ahead of time may solve your doubts and put your worries to rest, giving you confidence and thus
putting your child at ease.
On a related note, some tiny details do make a huge difference. Share with your child’s homeroom
facilitators what your child’s pet name is, or what his or her favourite colour or cartoon is, or what
you do to calm or soothe them. Any insider information will help the facilitators connect better and
faster with your child, helping the settling in process along. If your child will be commuting by the
school bus, you can always write a diary note in the handbook provided.
10) A Goodbye Ritual
Create a special, unique goodbye ritual for you and your child. It could be a secret-handshake, a series
of funny gestures, or a short song. As long as it is something your child enjoys, has co-created and is
familiar with, it will work well. If possible, use the goodbye ritual in other contexts when you separate
from the child for a short while, such as going to work, dropping the child off with a relative or friend
etc so that he or she understands what it implies. Saying goodbye consistently and often, that is,
saying goodbye the same way each time, will help your child be at ease in the long run. Repetition is
crucial. Ensure you inform your child that you will seem him or her in a few hours. If you’re feeling
creative, take it a step further and create a welcome back ritual for when you reunite to give your
child something to look forward to.
11) The Band-aid Approach
Ever tried peeling a band-aid slowly? The quicker you take off the plaster, the less it hurts. This holds
true for goodbyes as well. After taking time to settle your child in, you may want to say good-bye to
your little one, quickly and effectively. After you say your goodbye, avoid returning to check-in or
trying to linger at the door, this may cause further distress to your child and disrupt his or her process
of adapting to the new environment and may distract him with the expectation that you may turn up
12) Bribes? Try these instead!
It is natural to feel a little guilty, especially if your little one is in tears, or if you’re separating from him
or her for the first time. However, avoid slipping in a chocolate or a treat into your child’s hand at the
last minute. This will only increase his or her mistrust and sense of suspicion that you want him or her
to do something they may not want to do. Done often, this can also become a habit you and your
child will find difficult to stop doing later and will create a sense of dependence on external rewards.
Instead, reward your child at the end of the school day with a star or a sticker for having gone to
school! This will motivate your child to repeat the experience again…
13) Expect some crying!
While not all children cry when they separate from their parents, most tend to cry or throw a
tantrum. This is perfectly healthy and normal at first and is called separation anxiety. It may take up to
three to four days for the tears to subside and your child to get used to your absence. Though it may
be tough for you to hear or watch, it is important to understand that your child is crying because he or
she has a healthy emotional attachment to you. After the initial days when your child starts feeling
comfortable with the routine and even attached to the new environment, he or she will really look
forward to starting the school day. The key is to stay strong and firm and to leave the reassurance to
14) Skip the interrogation, let your child come to you…
Is the first day over? Is your child back in your arms? Great! However happy or stressed your child
may seem, resist the urge to bombard him or her with questions. We know you have many questions
(Did you eat? Did you drink? Did you make friends?) but it is important to give your child the space
and time he or she needs. Let the child come to you and open up to you on their own (trust us, they
will!). Asking too many or too detailed questions may in itself inspire doubt or fear in the child’s sense
of trust and leave a sense of unpleasantness. Trust our facilitators, and trust your child. Let your child
communicate to you at his or her own pace and in his or her own way. Your child may not want to talk
about it, but may want to draw it out. Just make sure you’re listening, with a warm hug and
15) This too shall pass!
As a parent it is important to understand that the settling-in phase is temporary and is going to be
replaced by a comfortable routine that both you and your child will enjoy. Separation anxiety can last
as little as a few days to as long as four or six weeks, varying with each child. Giving your child time
and staying patient with the process is vital. Ensuring your child is not absent during the first few
weeks can really help the routine set-in as absences may lead to set-backs and relapses in patterns
and expectations. Remember to celebrate each small successful step that your child takes