School Transition Made Easy
Is your little one starting school soon? It’s a big, brand new world out there that can be overwhelming at first. Starting school brings change into our children’s lives which can be exciting but also bring stress, anxiety and exhaustion.
Having an older sibling at school may help with their introduction to what school is about as they’re somewhat familiar with the environment and staff, but this will not always guarantee to a smooth transition. So, it’s a good idea to put in some ground work before your child arrives at school on their first day.
Here are just a few easy tasks that will help with this transition to school:
- Visit the school. Meet the principal, the teacher, the other students. Most schools will have one or a series of orientation sessions. Make sure your child attends these. It’s very important for your child and for the teacher as they can identify your child’s individual needs and see how the children work together as a group. This careful planning by the teacher will assist a smooth transition for all of the children.
- If accessible, hit the playground on the weekend or after school. Let them play on the equipment and become familiar with where the outdoor play areas, drink fountains, etc are.
- Suggest, or teach your child some games to play with friends in the school yard. Really easy ones like, Hide and Seek, Duck Duck Goose, etc. Most children find a big school yard and new friendship groups overwhelming, so sometimes a structured game can help them feel a little more comfortable until they feel more confident to play in an open-ended manner.
- Ensure they know where the toilet is!
- Role-play the school environment with your child. Do a few fun structured activities at home that look a little like classroom work. Call it “school work”, make it fun, like you are really at school. You could do a worksheet or 2, a literacy or numeracy activity, or a craft activity that has a series of steps to follow. Get them to put their hand up and ask for help if they need it. If the activity gets too difficult or your child isn’t enjoying it, don’t force them to continue. The last thing you want to do is create an aversion to school work.
- If your child is missing you during the day or they experiencing some separation anxiety, place a laminated photo of you, or a little treasure such as an old necklace, handkerchief, etc in their pocket. They can sneak a look at it whenever they like, or just feel it in their pocket if they wish to keep it a secret. This will help them feel a little more connected to you during the day. Ensure they know that it doesn’t matter if they lose this item. We don’t want them to be feeling anxious about that too.
- Read books about school transition, a quick google search will reveal lots of goodies, but my favourite is The Kissing Hand. It is a beautiful story with a strategy that will keep you both close during the day while you are apart. It’s excellent for reading to children who are having some separation anxiety. Here’s a video for you to enjoy.
As your child transitions to school keep the lines of communication open with their teacher. Don’t hesitate to ask how they are going, and bring up any concerns you have. Enjoy those first day moments and if you need a cry, try not to do it in front of your child. Save that for the cafe with the other mums after drop off.