For many children and young people, it is truly a new beginning: the first day in a new school grade always arouses strong and conflicting emotions. The fear of entering an unfamiliar environment overlaps with the excitement that the adventure of becoming “big” entails, with new companions, teachers and new things to learn.
And then there is a beginning that is “more beginning” than all the others: that of three-year-old children who are preparing to begin their schooling, entering the first environment that, together with the family, takes care of their education and training : kindergarten. The period characterized by the entry of the very small pupils is called “insertion” and is a delicate phase in the life of a child because it must make a transition not easy from a “comfort zone” (home, family, grandparents, nest) to a place that looks so much like a social “microcosm”, with completely new and different dynamics, non-familiar reference figures and a wider and multicultural group of peers.
During the insertion, the children experience, not only the detachment from the attachment figures but also the encounter with a completely new world. Often the reactions are not easy to manage, both for the family and for the teachers who know well how important it is to prepare a welcome as empathetic, inclusive and positive as possible. Think of a child of three years, try to put yourself in his shoes: he has not yet matured his personality, he is not able to make complex choices and in complete autonomy and he is not endowed with abstract thought. For how many speeches or words we could spend, he will live always and in any case anchored to reality and to the concrete. The question that arises, often manifesting it with tears, is: why do I have to go to school?
A child who begins his journey does not know what school is, has never lived it and does not know the motivation for which he will have to attend it. Motivation. This is one of the key words of the moment of acceptance. Provide children with the motivation to go back to school the next day, and the one after that, to make the school a center of interest, a stimulating and captivating place: these are some of the challenges of the nursery school teacher.
In order to make the school motivating, the structuring of the spaces is above all fundamental. The classroom must contain corners set up specifically to stimulate the curiosity of the little ones: for example, the corner of the buildings, the corner of books, disguises, experiments, material handling. The context must be “child-friendly” and the teacher an important reference figure to lead the children towards the exploration “of the new”. It is important that the experiences proposed at school bring the child into contact with “things”, in the broadest sense of the term: objects, living beings, environments, images, effectively in every respect: affective-emotional, perceptive, cognitive, aesthetic. The teacher’s task is to “show” the child that the school can offer so many opportunities, not only to grow and to discover but also to learn to meet others, encouraging socialization.
Life does not always offer pleasant stimuli, and this is a lesson that, unfortunately, is often learned as a child. For this reason, every student should find in the school, from day one, an “allied” environment and in the teacher a strong point of reference, capable of consoling, encouraging, understanding moods, in short, a person rich in empathy, capable of helping to overcome fragility and to enhance one’s abilities. Children between three and six years express a great wealth of needs and emotions to which the nursery school responds by proposing the meeting and experimentation of new languages, and unexpected experiences to stimulate creativity and curiosity, observation of the world, the elaboration of the first hypotheses on things, on events, on the body, on relationships, on language, on the different symbolic systems and on the media, and on the existence of other points of view.
Every day the school can and must become an opportunity for discoveries, new questions, positive and concrete experiences that can provide pupils with the motivation to return the next day, and the one after still … transforming, in short, the question: “Why do I have to go to school? “in an exclamation:” I like being at school! “