“Getting to Know You” — the Process of Adapting or Acclimatizing to ELIYA

 The absorption of any child in kindergarten is a delicate goal, requiring sensitive efforts by both parents and teaching staff.  The child comes to a new and unknown environment in a new physical setting, encountering a team of kindergarten teachers, assistants and children, with a set and structured schedule, rules and activities – and all this without the accompaniment of mom or dad. It’s important to keep in mind that the adjustment process is also difficult for the parents and can influence the child’s ability to deal with separating from them.

The first few weeks are very difficult and require the participation of all. There are techniques for getting through this period successfully. Implementing these techniques, along with a healthy dose of love and patience will reap rewards as painlessly as possible.

Hard as this process is for the seeing child, imagine how much more challenging it is for the blind or vision impaired child.

Before starting kindergarten at ELIYA, it is recommended that parents prepare their child by explaining to them the changes they will encounter in the new environment. Being with their child in the kindergarten in early days will increase the child’s sense of security and quicker adaption while they learn to get to know and trust the teachers and other professional staff who will be their “family” away from home.

Eventually the child will adjust to the ELIYA environment through the staff leading him in creative play and other activities, such as learning where and how to wash their hands before and after meals, how to deal with other children who are “bothering” him, to whom to approach for help, locating the various toys and games in their “corners” in the room, and so on. The child will often express his anxiety through crying, changes in mood, loss of appetite or difficulty sleeping during nap time. The kindergarten staff is trained to recognize the child’s fears and emotions upon separating from their parents and to comfort and encourage him accordingly.

Most of the children at the ELIYA centers arrive in transports with regular drivers and assistants. They must also accustom themselves to this new experience with new people, thus leading to a further step in their increased self confidence and sense of security.

The period of adjustment is accompanied by a surge of emotion in the child that enables him to open himself to new challenges and learning development. During this period ELIYA therapists observe and evaluate the child’s adaption to his new environment and adjust his therapies according to his individual needs.

TIPS FOR PARENTS DURING THEIR CHILD’S ADJUSTMENT PERIOD AT ELIYA

  • Show your child an optimistic and positive attitude.
  • Try not to hover or stand over your child while he is in the kindergarten – this increases his sense of insecurity, the feeling that at any moment mom or dad will leave him, and may result in him not participating in the various activities.
  • While you are with your child make sure his first experience in kindergarten is positive and enriching.
  • Make sure to say “goodbye” when you leave; do not “escape” when the child is not paying attention, even when you think he is enjoying or busy with another activity. Blind and visual impaired children do not communicate with body language so much as verbal expressions and we are very verbally communicative at the ELIYA kindergarten.
  • When you say goodbye, mean it and leave, do not drag out the farewell.
  • It’s important not to start training your child to part with his bottle or pacifier, or to diaper train him at this early stage of adjustment to kindergarten.
  • Inform the staff about any habits or personality traits of your child.
  • If your child is attached to a particular item from home, bring it to the kindergarten; even if he has no special item that he loves bring some sort of reminder of home.
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