Children adaptation at school: first graders and fifth graders difficulties

The beginning of fall for many children and their parents is closely connected not only with pleasant and exciting moments of preparation for school life but also with the difficult transition of the child from the status of a preschooler to the status of a schooler; from a primary school student to a middle school student. In both cases, most parents are covered with psychological and social problems associated with a new stage in their children’s life – adaptation to school and adaptation to new conditions of a familiar school. The answer to the question «How to go this way with minimal costs for the health of your children and for the nervous system of parents?» – find in this article.


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Adaptation period


What is «child adaptation to school»? In the broad sense of the word, adaptation is getting used to the environmental conditions. Adaptation to school is an addiction to systematic learning and to the new conditions of the school. According to psychologists, adaptation can last from 6-8 weeks to six months, sometimes more. Why does the length of this process differ so much? The duration of adaptation is associated with many factors: this is the «atmosphere» in the family, the personality of the child, the level of his or her knowledge and skills, the type of educational institution, the level of complexity of the program, etc.

Stages of adaptation

The adaptation process is usually divided into three main stages, each has its own characteristics.

● The first stage of adaptation is called «Indicative».

The child is facing new conditions, studying the situation, boundaries, norms, etc. That’s really hard for some children. That’s why the kid is often tense: both physically and psychologically. Reactions can be brightly colored and cut.

The stage lasts, most often, about two to three weeks.


● The second stage is the «Unstable Fixture» phase.

The name speaks for itself: the child begins to adapt. He or she is already close to finding optimal behavior in the proposed conditions. Behavioral patterns are built in a kids’ head, this allows the body to spend less energy than at the first stage. Reactions are already less emotionally colored.

Duration: about two to three weeks.

● The third stage of adaptation is «Relatively stable adaptation».

At this stage, the children gain confidence in the selected forms of behavior, become more stable. This is a final assessment of the concept «I am a schoolboy, and what does it mean” …

The last stage lasts from five to six weeks to 1 year.

Features of adaptation of first graders


Adaptation of a child to school life is a complex, multifaceted process, thanks to which the child adapts to new conditions, to a new status. A harmonious course of the adaptation process is impossible without the help of an adult, whose explanations and clarifications are expected, as well as help, words of support or just hugs. The parent must understand that the adaptation process is temporary, and the duration of adaptation and the further success of a child’s education depends on how much effort the parent will make.

In many respects, the adaptation of the child to school depends on the situation in the classroom. If a primary schooler feels comfortable, interesting and not scared – this facilitates the process of adaptation.

The friendly atmosphere in the classroom is the main task for the teacher during this period. At this time, the child has increased anxiety, internal stress, low self-esteem. It is important to enabling the child to work in a mode that is convenient for him or her. The teacher should be calm and restrained, pay attention to the successes and achievements of children. If the teacher does not take into account the specifics of this period, this can lead the child to a nervous breakdown. Therefore, it is so important to monitor the state of the physical and mental health of a first grader.

If the parent suspects that a child’s adaptation is difficult, then he or she must speak with the teacher. In addition, it is important not to be shy to seek help from specialists of an educational institution (psychologists, speech therapists, medical workers, etc.)

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Features of the adaptation of fifth graders

Any student moving from primary to secondary school will have another period – adaptation to the new conditions of an already familiar school. This moment can be called a turning point mainly because it coincides with crisis age-related changes: the child is no longer a primary schooler, he or she becomes a teenager. At this time, a personality is beginning to take shape – gaining a sense of maturity and gaining oneself as a person. This process proceeds rather painfully and leads to the fact that the child begins to fence him/herself off from significant relatives, who until that time played a crucial role in his or her life. This is manifested in the fact that a teenager opposes any interference in his or her life and often goes against the feelings and desires of adults.

Now the teenager is ready to build new relationships with peers. It is through friendships that the child forms models of social relationships, moral values, etc.

During this period, the child undergoes changes in his or her self-esteem. Previously, it was directly related to educational activities, the level of knowledge and the assessment of this knowledge by the teacher. Now the main criterion for self-esteem is the level of communication with peers. The leading activity is irrevocably communication.


Against this background, educational motivation is reduced, academic performance is falling, conflicts with teachers happen.

Parents should remember that the mental activity of adolescents during this period is quite high. But their development now directly depends on the emotions that the child experiences during training.

Success or failure has a significant impact on learning motivation. After all, a high score «confirms» the possibilities of a teenager. The ideal moment is when «assessment» and self-esteem coincide. If this does not happen, there is an increase in internal discomfort, which over time can develop into an internal conflict.

That is, when a child moves from the primary school to the middle classes, he or she undergoes not only external changes but also profound, internal ones.

Types of adaptation


There are two main types of adaptation of the child to school:

Social and psychological adaptation

When a child goes to first grade, he or she acquires a new status as a school student. Along with the change in status, a reappraisal of values takes place: everything related to educational activity becomes important. The child falls into a new team, he or she is surrounded by unfamiliar faces. At this moment, the teacher and the parent play an important role. They help to set the child up for a positive emotional attitude towards school.

For a harmonious passage of the adaptation period, it is important to pay special attention to the presence of the following skills:

Cognitive abilities

For most kids, the development of cognitive abilities is a natural process. But this does not mean that you should not pay attention to the more successful development of this skill. In older preschool age, this skill develops in parallel with memory, attention, thinking, and cognitive interests. If all of these processes develop harmoniously, adaptation will take place faster and the student’s body will spend less energy.


Creative thinking

Nowadays, it’s important to think «not like everyone else». The meaning of the concept of «blond sheep» is now radically changing. The attitude towards people with bright creative thinking is also changing. Parents should not be scared if the child knows how to “be creative” and think outside the box. In the future, this can be a good help in overcoming some critical situations.


With the start of schooling, the child enters a system where tight time frameworks: lessons, breaks, additional classes – all according to a specific time. The ability to manage and plan time is a very important skill for a first-grader.

In addition, the development of logic, imagination, and communication is important.

Physiological adaptation

A huge physical load falls on the shoulders of a schoolchild: mental in the form of mastering new knowledge and physical – a static position during the educational process. The stronger the pressure, the more energy the body spends. It is important not to miss the moment of fatigue.

Difficulties and problems that schooler and their parents may face


It is advisable for parents of future first-graders to know the main difficulties and problems that they may expect in primary school:

1. The problem of getting up in the morning

In the early days of school, especially if the child liked it, he or she wakes up without any difficulties. Over time, the first interest in the school becomes dull, the routine begins, so the process of awakening may not be so simple. Often in the morning right before the school, the child experiences hysteria. One of the ways of a harmonious way out of this problem is «gradual awakening». This means that the child should not be woken up abruptly, but gradually, with a temporary supply that will allow him to «soak» in bed.

2. «Alex has it, so I want it too!»

The newly-made schooler, in addition to the process of teaching and preparing homework, actively communicates with peers. There is a high probability that a kid can see another boy/girl with a beautiful backpack, a cool iPhone and understand that he or she wants the same. Here the parents have a difficult choice: to find an opportunity to make a purchase for the child, so as not to be worse than others, or not follow the child’s lead, but in this case, a kid may feel insecure. How to get out of such a situation when a child, upon leaving school, declares: «I want a tablet-like Alex»? The best option: offer the student to save money. By this you inculcate a competent attitude to money, and give the «opportunity» to the child to make the final decision: «Is it really necessary or is it better to buy something else?»


3. Dangerous homework

It is very important for children to do homework on their own! A parent can always help, but only after asking for it. Support from the parent side at this moment is mandatory: you can just be in the room, help reformulate the complex into simple, but not do the work for the child. The primary task of an adult is to help organize the learning space: where textbooks and notebooks, pens and pencils will be placed, etc.

Allowing the child to be independent does not mean letting it go: you can control the situation without being imposed. So you make it clear to your child: «I trust you!» and «You can do anything!»

Conditions for successful adaptation


The most successful adaptation conditions include:

  1. the presence of a complete family;
  2. a high level of parents’ education;
  3. adequate methods of education;
  4. respect for the rights of the child;
  5. the child’s readiness for school;
  6. a positive attitude in the family to the status of a schooler.

Signs of successful adaptation:

1. Satisfaction with the learning process.

The child is happy to talk about the school and is happy to attend it.

2. Mastering the program.

The child is not particularly difficult to cope with the tasks presented. If a child works according to the traditional program but experiences some difficulties, it is important to support him or her, not comparing with other children, not reproving and not pointing out shortcomings. If difficulties arise when learning within the framework of a complicated program (for example, with an in-depth study of a subject), parents should consider switching to a regular program.


3. The degree of independence.

The child must complete the tasks independently; only after unsuccessful attempts, he or she may ask the adult for help. Many adults begin to help from the very beginning – and this is a big mistake. The child quickly gets used to this option of preparing homework and in the future, it will be more difficult for a kid to do it on his/her own.

4. Satisfaction with a teacher and classmates.

This is one of the main features. If the child has a harmonious relationship with the teacher and classmates, the adaptation process will take place at the lowest cost.

General recommendations for parents – advice from a psychologist



Each mother, helping to do homework for her child, notices mistakes. But she just wants the child to write and complete all the tasks correctly! At this moment, the mother’s inner critic, solely out of love for the child, begins to find fault, pointing out errors …

It is important for the parent to notice what the child is doing well, to focus on this. This will give confidence and the student will have a desire to do better!

The schedule for the preparation of homework

In order to understand how to approach homework in the best way, parents need to watch their child and answer a few questions:

  • is it easy for a child to «get into work»?
  • how long does it take to «overclock»?
  • how long, after switching on, can he or she work without getting tired?
  • how fast is exhaustion?

For those children who find it difficult to engage in homework, it is best to start with literary reading. And for those who are quickly depleted, they need to take breaks from mathematics.

Don’t demand too much!


It is important for the parent to understand and realize the capabilities of the child. To do this, you can simply observe: what a beginner student does well and what doesn’t. Set «goals» gently, slightly above the child’s capabilities or in accordance with them.

Confidence betting

It is very important for mom and dad to know the «strengths» of their beginner students. To do this, answer questions:

• «what delights me in my child?»

• «what can he or she do well?»

Helping your child become a confident student, rely on what he or she is good at.

There should always be an opportunity to calm down


Many parents do not know how to reassure the child in the event of grief, disappointment, and tears. It is very important at such moments to share the feelings of the child and allow him or her to express them. In such cases, you can’t say such phrases: «Do not pay attention!», «This doesn’t matter …», «These are little things!», etc.

You need to indicate that you understand kids’ feelings: «I know you’re upset» and carefully ask to tell what happened. While the child will be telling, emotion will be expressed and the child might feel better.

In addition, it is advisable for parents to follow these recommendations:

  • develop a «feeling» of time in a beginner student;
  • teach to keep all things in order;
  • remember that child also has the right to make a mistake;
  • give your children the opportunity to take care of themselves.

Medical recommendations


  1. Stable daily routine. It is important to bring the child to this regime not immediately, but gradually.
  2. Good sleep.
  3. Convenient workplace. It is important to choose the right furniture (appropriate for the growth of the child) and place the light on the left of the child.
  4. Walking in the fresh air (at least two hours a day).
  5. Rest after school (preferably with a change of activity).
  6. Rationally healthy diet.
  7. A positive attitude towards people around.
  8. The desire for success.
  9. Exclude watching TV and computer games before going to bed.

Summing up, it should be said that adaptation to school is a serious way, having passed which the child rises to a new stage of development. If he or she will be accompanied by well-coordinated working parents, a teacher, a psychologist, and a medical worker, this path will not be too long and thorny.



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