Article by Sarit Levy – National Vision Instructor, Elia Association
The absorption of a child in kindergarten is a delicate task, which requires emotional investment and planning from both the child’s parents and the kindergarten staff. The child arrives at a new kindergarten with all that entails – acquaintance with the kindergarten and assistant staff, the physical structure, the children, a new and structured agenda, different habits, a different emotional attitude and dealing with parting from the entity that is safest for him, mother or father. It is important to remember that as part of the child’s adaptation process to kindergarten, the parent also undergoes a process of adaptation and building confidence and trust in the staff. The process the parent goes through is no less significant, and can affect the child’s ability to cope with the separation.
The first few weeks are difficult and emotionally charged for each of the participants in the kindergarten recording cycle, but there are ways to help go through these processes successfully, and if we can think and act together out of willingness, understanding and lots of love, we will succeed in the adjustment period.
For most children the separation is difficult, as is the case for a child with a visual impairment or with blindness, who goes through the same process that the child sees.
Before the child enters the frame it is necessary to prepare it in advance. It is recommended that the parent share with the child the expected changes prior to entering kindergarten. Will come with him even earlier in favor of getting acquainted with the new space of the garden, and will prepare as soon as possible a quick and easy adaptation for everyone.
The more visually impaired the child becomes aware of the environment in which he or she is, the more likely he or she is to acquire confidence and learn to explore the wider environment.
In the first days we must allow the child and parent to get to know and adapt to the kindergarten and the “new” staff is scary and threatens the visually impaired child but can be taught to be interested in the new by building trust in the people who care for him and by giving signs and comparisons to familiar things.
Deepening the child’s connection and trust in the team is built while getting to know and playing with him, this is a process that requires sensitivity and flexibility, and it is important to remember that each child and his parents have a different personal pace and adaptability. Because the difficulty of separation is great for some children, it is important that one parent stays with the child at the beginning of his journey in kindergarten in order to give him confidence and at the same time allow him to participate in events, activities and contact with caregivers. The parent serves as a safe anchor for the child in the new place he is in, and in staying, he teaches his child ways of adapting firsthand, while giving him exclusive attention. For example: what to do when something bothers him, who to contact, where the facilities are in the garden, where to wash hands, etc.
The child’s absorption process can be expressed in natural and legitimate behavioral modes, such as: crying, mood swings, lack of appetite, lack of sleep, escape to sleep and more. The role of the kindergarten staff is to be alert and attentive to the needs and difficulties of each child and to provide constant support that will help facilitate the child’s separation from his parents and absorption in the kindergarten.
Most of the children in Elia Kindergarten arrive through an array of drivers and caregivers and therefore the children and parents actually experience another process of adapting to additional characters. An array of transportation and not with the parents, it is important to establish the adjustment process and build the confidence and trust of the parents in the staff, and to understand the continuation of the relationship along the way.
The adjustment period is accompanied by an emotional load for the child which makes it difficult for him to show openness, reveal his abilities and skills and free up for learning. It is important to contain him during this period and to engage in his adaptation process to the garden and the new environment, to get to know him and his character, with his needs and habits. The phase of diagnoses and assessments as well as rehabilitative treatments will begin after the end of the process of personal acquaintance with the child and his adjustment to kindergarten.
Required adjustments in the garden and environment such as seating, standing, dazzling, preferred seating will be made immediately. Further adjustments that require in-depth knowledge and diagnosis will be made later and in accordance with the results of the diagnoses and assessments.
Tips for parents to help with the process of absorption and adjustment to kindergarten:
- Send your child confidence and optimistic messages otherwise consciously and unconsciously, your fears will pass to the child.
- <✓ Try to avoid standing still – this standing may cause the child a feeling of insecurity, that here is another moment the father and / or mother go, and he may avoid other occupations or some desire to play and get involved in kindergarten activities.
- <✓ Be with your children and make this first experience positive and quality.
- <✓ Be sure to say hello and goodbye, do not “run away” even if the child is busy and even if the breakup seems difficult. Because visually impaired children, for the most part, cannot rely on body language, we must give very clear verbal instructions and also use voice to illustrate emotion..
- When you break up, say it and do it – do not prolong the breakup by going back and forth several times.
- <✓ It’s important to avoid making further changes during this period, such as weaning from a bottle, pacifier, diaper, etc.
- <✓ Share with the staff the child’s habits and loves to help with acquaintance and adjustment.
- <✓ If the child is tied to a particular object, bring him to kindergarten. Even if the child does not have a particular object, he can bring an object familiar to him from home.