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Sonia Rivas Borrell, Professor of the School of Education and Psychology

The adaptation period at Education Infantil

Sat, 12 Sep 2015 12:20:00 +0000 Published in News Journal

There are many families who are living these days the adaptation period of their children enrolled in Education Infants. Those who observe the frantic comings and goings of parents to the center educational may ask themselves: Why give so much importance to this moment? The answer is simple: first, because it involves all of us (families, professionals of Education and the child himself), and second, because it has a transcendental significance in the social and school history staff : the child is incorporated for the first time to the school experience.

In order to fully understand the educational significance of this period, and to understand the logic of the pedagogical, individual and institutional strategies implemented in schools, it is important to highlight the characteristics of this period.

The first contact with the school is the first important separation of the child and his family. That is to say, the main protagonism that the child had in his family environment disappears and becomes shared with that of other children, who also demand the educator's attention. Likewise, the code known by the child and established by his family comes to coexist with the one indicated by tutor.

The child is surrounded by different elements: space, objects, people and their behavior. Therefore, according to these principles, it is to be expected that all of these, combined and at the same time, will instill in the child insecurity, fear or anxiety; feelings that, in addition, he/she will have to cope with accompanied by a person whom he/she has probably never seen before.

The child observes that the people with whom he/she has a strong emotional bond leave him/her in a strange place, with no possibility to turn to them, because they leave. Moreover, the child has not yet acquired the concept of time. Thus, the parent's phrase: "I'll pick you up later, don't cry," is meaningless. Therefore, for any child, the first schooling means a "withdrawal until who knows when" from his family; withdrawal, accompanied by other peers who express the same uneasiness. And these feelings multiply and become contagious.

As Laura Méndez, José Manuel Ruiz, Elena Rodríguez and María Rebaque point out in one of their books: "From the pedagogical point of view, it is important to be in solidarity with the experience of the young child, which may consist of, although it does not correspond to reality, the feeling of withdrawal caused by not being the center of attention as he/she has been until now".

The teachers try to design the best possible way to deal with this hostile environment. The course tutors try to give adequate answers to the needs of both children and parents, planning the most favorable factors for each status and each context, trying to make the change as smooth and satisfactory as possible, and organizing a period of adaptation as adequate as possible for the families, so that these first times of school are assumed without extraordinary difficulties.

It is important for educators to take into account the maturation time of each child and to respect personal rhythms, in order to help each one find the answer to this internal conflict as happily as possible. We must not forget that each child also collaborates in his or her own adaptation.

Some families empathize with the children's feelings and also suffer with them. Others, on the other hand, consider that this moment, as it is necessary to go through it, should be done as soon as possible, without giving it excessive importance. From a educational point of view and without falling into false and utopian recipes, it is not convenient for families to accelerate this process nor to eliminate or ignore all the rough edges that can be found on the way. The mission statement of the family should be to understand what the child lives and feels, smoothing the way, but without avoiding the inevitable conflicts that the child may have. Otherwise, the child will lose the opportunity to learn to overcome obstacles and to regulate his emotions.

For all that we have just briefly mentioned, perhaps the pedagogical reasons surrounding the importance that parents, educators and educational institutions attach to the adaptation period can be better understood.