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School adaptation difficulties in first grade children

The child becomes a first grader. This is on the one hand exciting and on the other a challenge, both for him and for the parents.

Children's daily environment is changing rapidly. From the relatively free regime in kindergarten, they have to get used (and it is expected that this will happen quickly) to the new, much more structured regime in school. They cannot move freely as before, talk with other children, they have to start learning systematically, they are evaluated for the competences and efforts they make. Some children experience little or no difficulty in the transition from kindergarten to the school environment. But for others, this process is not easy at all.

Bearing in mind that classes in Bulgaria usually have 20 to 30 students and it is very difficult for the teacher to have an individual attitude towards each child, adaptation can be further difficult.

Adaptation to school includes adapting to new learning conditions and social situations, a new daily routine, new friendships and relationships with peers, a new social role.

Children 6-7 years old are not able to regulate this process by themselves. For this reason, the school and the family environment play an important role in enabling first graders to get used to the new conditions.


Successful adaptation to school depends on the following factors:

  • family environment
  • recent big events/changes in the child's life
  • temperament and personality characteristics of the child
  • the level of readiness of a given child
  • the organization within the school
  • the professional competencies of the teacher
  • the personality of the teacher
  • the workload of the study programme, and others

From the family environment, parents' expectations and approach should be noted as important factors. The degree to which the child will be able to adapt depends largely on the readiness of the parents to cope with their new role - parents of a student. There are several criteria for parental readiness: psychological, pedagogical, social, material and legal (Chomenko, 2007). This means that parents must be prepared to deal with new challenges at different levels: to be able to support the learning process, to support their children in their daily routine, to maintain relations with the teacher and the school as an organization.

The process of adaptation of a first-grader can be considered successful when the child feels satisfaction, goes to school with pleasure, is confident in his abilities, writes his homework with pleasure, enjoys talking about what happened at school, has the feeling to cope with, not withdraw from, the school environment.

The opposite manifestations show that the child has not yet adapted.

Problems in adaptation

Under normal circumstances, children usually adapt to the new school life, to the daily routine and the demands of the teachers without major problems. However, some children have trouble adjusting. This prevents them from optimally expressing their capabilities and feeling good in the new environment. There is evidence that girls adapt more easily to the school environment than boys (Vekerdi, 2010)

There are several levels within the process of school adaptation:

High adaptability: includes children with a high ability to adjust. The adaptation process for them lasts no more than 2-3 months. They are distinguished by their ability to perform their tasks without particular problems, they enjoy going to school, they quickly manage to establish contact with their teachers and classmates, and most of the time they are in a good mood. Most often, they may have problems at the beginning when entering school, but they subside by the end of October or November.

Medium adaptability: includes children who need more time to adapt. They require attention and support from parents and teachers. Usually these children have a higher need to play, they can be timid, crying or aggressive. Adaptation takes about half a year and children manage to adapt by the end of the first term.

Low adaptability: these children experience great difficulty in adapting to the new role of student and classmate. The problems continued in the second term. Most often these problems disappear during the second term, but in most cases professional help and support is needed. The way these children behave and experience things is marked by negative manifestations.

Lack of adaptation: the child is not able to adapt to the changed conditions and cannot cope with the new requirements. In this case, it is necessary to seek professional help (Vilčinskaja, 2000; Slezáková, 2012).



Възможно е проблемите в адаптацията да се проявят и с физически симптоми като проблеми с храненето или съня, агресивно поведение, избухливост, плачливост, прекалена мълчаливост, проблеми с изхождането и др.

Продължителността на приспособяването може да бъде между 8 седмици и 6 месеца в зависимост от благоприятните условия около детето и удовлетвореността на факторите, изброени по-горе.


A few brief recommendations for parents:

  • prepare your child in advance for what lies ahead - how much time he will be busy, what his school duties will be, what he will study
  • try to create in him a positive attitude about the upcoming changes, but be frank and do not idealize the situation
  • if possible, visit the school together in advance, get to know the teacher
  • support the child in their daily duties at school - homework, projects, materials, etc.
  • provide him with a stable routine - enough sleep, enough rest, full nutrition, etc.
  • show interest not only in his academic duties, but also in the child's new social roles, in what happened during the day - who he played with during recess, who he met, which children are his friends
  • try to organize your own daily life so that the change in regime does not make you nervous and overwhelmed


In case of difficulties in adaptation, professional support can support the process and the child can enter his new role more calmly and successfully.


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