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“From the very first school years it is important that teachers make their suggestions always according to the fundamental needs and wishes of children and teenagers. It is, also, important to symbolically value the transition moments which are essential in the process of learning and growth of each student”. (from The Miur National Guidelines for pre-primary and primary school curriculum).
The settling in is the moment in which a child familiarises with the school’s environment and tries to adapt to it. It is a very delicate moment, during which the child experiences various emotions; it is, therefore, very important to respect each child’s timings. For this reason, in school, the month of September is usually entirely dedicated to the settling in of the children.
Considering that every child is a unique individual, different from everyone else, teachers, carefully observe them during the very first days of school. Through this attentive observation they should be able to understand the time that each one of them needs when settling in and evaluate, together with the families, the different situations. Certain children at the very beginning may, in fact, need some time to familiarize with the new environment and so parents may be advised to leave them in school just for a few hours. These hours will then be extended according to the child’s reaction. Other children, on the other hand, may not need more than a couple of days to completely settle into school. During the settling in period, parents are invited to stay in school together with their child. These moments in which parents are always present in school, will be followed by other moments during when the parents will be asked to leave the child alone for some hours, so that he or she can start getting familiar independently with the surrounding environment, with the teachers and also with the other children.
Normally, during the first week, parents are advised to pick the child up before lunch time, in order to gradually adapt to the process of familiarization with the new setting. After this initial phase, the permanence in school will be gradually extended until it is reached the whole duration of a normal school day. However, the process of settling in continues even after this phase. Teachers carry on this process in school, even after the parents are allowed to leave the child in school for the whole day, by carefully monitoring the childrens’ different emotions and by supporting them during the process of adaptation to the new environment and to the new social rules.
How do teachers facilitate this process?
First of all, in September every activity aims at the adjustment of the children to the scholastic routine. The routine, at the beginning, is therefore very flexible as it is shaped and adapted according to the class’ needs. Also, the time in the routine is extended so that it is possible to follow each child’s pace without putting too much pressure on any of them. Another fundamental aspect in this process is the planning and setting up of the play sessions which should always be highly stimulating for the children. This will, on one hand, promote the child’s willingness to stay in the new environment and to come back to school the following day, on the other hand, will encourage the establishment of a relationship with the teachers and with peers. The bonding process in the classroom is essential for the achievement and completion of the settling in process.
Elisa Serras - Reception Teacher