Preparing Your Child for the ELC
Expectations for ELC Preschool & Kindergarten Students
ELC children enter NIS with a wide range of experiences and each family has different ideas about what to expect at school, and what might be expected of them.
In the ELC, the children are encouraged to be independent. Children are expected to take care of their own belongings, use the toilet independently and change their own clothes.
Of course there are times where children need additional help and ELC staff are happy to support them. However, in preparation for entering the ELC, parents should keep in mind the following suggestions of how children can be independent at home and school.
Before entering the ELC your child should be able to:
- Use the toilet independently.
- Get dressed independently.
- Put on and take off their shoes.
- Put on and take off a coat.
- Wash their hands.
- Feed themselves with a fork, spoon or chopsticks.
- Brush their teeth
We understand that accidents happen, buttons can sometimes be difficult, and routines hard to remember. Three-year old children are still mastering these skills, and often need help, reminders and assistance from ELC staff, which we are happy to give with loving care.
However, being able to do these things on their own before arrival will help your child feel confident and relaxed in their new environment.
Plan more social activities
All preschool children have to get along with other children. If your child hasn't spent much time in a group with other children, then activities such as sharing, taking turns, and playing cooperatively can be very difficult. Help your child get used to being part of a group by arranging playdates with one or two peers or enrolling them in playgroup.
Give them a sense of what to expect
Most children are a little anxious about starting preschool. Resist the temptation of saying things like, "It will be the most fun you have ever had," or "There's nothing to be afraid of." Never belittle your child's fears or concerns. Instead, help calm their fears with information. Talk about what to expect when arriving at school — routines, activities, etc.
Getting ready to say goodbye
If this is the first time your child will be away from you, they may worry that you're not coming back, or that you'll get lost and won't be able to find your way back to the school to pick them up at the end of the day. Invent a special parting ritual — such as a high-five, or saying something like, "I'll be back to get you soon, long before we see the moon." — that you do each time you drop them off.
During the first few days of school, allow extra time to get your child ready and out the door in the morning. The more calm things are at home, the easier the separation will be. Though you might be tempted to sneak out without so much as a wave when you drop them off, don't do it. Your child will only be more distressed when they realize you're gone.
Instead, make a point of saying goodbye. Don't drag it out or let them know that you might be upset too. Just do it matter-of-factly and confidently and they will learn to do the same. If your child is in tears, a teacher or assistant will comfort them and stay close until they settle into the day. We will try to send an email during the day to let you know how your child is.
It is important to remember that children take their cues from their caregivers. If they see you are upset, this will only intensify their fear. If they see you are happy about their newfound independence, this will help to build their self-confidence.
Eating and Drinking
By the age of three, your child should be able to handle a fork, spoon and/or chopsticks with some dexterity. Children entering the ELC must be able to feed themselves.
Your child's fine motor skills are still developing, so opening plastic containers or sandwich bags can easily turn into a frustrating battle. Avoid mealtime meltdowns by running through a few "practice" school lunches at home. You'll learn what they can't open and have time to rethink your packing technique.
Your child will also be bringing a drink bottle to school with them everyday. Please help them practice opening and closing the drink bottle so that they can manage it independently.
Clothing and other belongings
In the ELC, there are many transitions that your child will be expected to manage independently. Changing shoes is something that your child should be able to do on their own. Having a pair of indoor shoes at home that your child changes into when they come inside will make this routine easy and stress free when they start school. The winter months also sneak up quickly. Please help your child practice managing their coats, gloves and hats independently. Putting on, taking off, zipping, and unzipping should be practiced at home so that they do not feel stressed and frustrated when they transition between outdoor and indoor times.
Your child will also have a cubby and a hook where they will be expected to keep their belongings. Please also expect your child to put away their things at home as well. It can be confusing to children if they are allowed to drop their clothing anywhere at home, and then are expected to stay organized at school.
The same goes for toys. Please help empower your child by expecting them to put away their own toys and materials when they have finished an activity.
Active and healthy children run, jump, fall, splash, dig and paint. Please make sure that your child has a wardrobe of flexible, non-restrictive clothing and shoes that they can move in safely.
Also, 3-5 year-olds have small bladders and an urgent need to use the restroom can come up suddenly. Please make sure your child can easily and quickly remove their pants, leggings, and underwear. Layers, while cute, can be impeding, as can complex buckles and buttons.
Children must be able to use the toilet independently before starting in the ELC. We expect children to wash their hands with soap before mealtimes and after using the bathroom. Please also enforce this at home, so that they are prepared. At first they will need guidance in how to use soap and lather their hands for the appropriate amount of time (at least 20 seconds).
Three year-olds should also be able to manage to keep their face clean, and we expect them to be able to blow and clean their nose with a tissue and keep their fingers out of their mouths.