By: Brooke Chenoweth
The first days of September can be full of stress for even the most enthusiastic student – and for parents too! After the long summer break, the prospect of the new and unfamiliar school can be daunting, especially the pressure for those kids who are starting kindergarten or primary school for the first time, or those who are starting at a new school altogether. We chat to Easy Peasy Service’s Kathryn Sly for advice and tips to help reduce the pressure for parents and kids transitioning into school this year.
- Before school goes back, take your kids to visit the campus. Walk around, have a look inside the classrooms and meet the teacher if possible. Take advantage of school open days and meet-the-teacher information sessions; these will help ease the worries of nervous parents too. If your child has a friend who will also be going to the same school, take them along – discovering the new environment together will make it far less intimidating.
- When you do visit the school for the first time, take the same route that the school bus will take, so that this aspect of the school day will also be familiar come September.
- At home you can help younger children by playing out the scenario of going to school with dolls or toys. Role play and come up with solutions for some of the more common anxieties children may have about being at school.
- Write social stories together about school. Illustrate each step of the day (for example, write “I will wear a uniform” and insert a picture of your child in his/her uniform) and give your child strategies to help them if they are feeling anxious. (Another example: “If I am missing Mummy, I will talk to my teacher.”) When they come home from their first day you can talk to them about what aspects of the day were the same and what was different, and rewrite the social story accordingly. The website www.toondoo.com is a great tool for creating social stories in the form of comic strips and cartoons.
- Having an older child to act as a mentor and role model can also be particularly reassuring for younger children. Hearing from someone other than a parent about what it was like to go to school for the first time and sharing those experiences is very comforting.
- Books can also be an extremely useful tool for introducing children to school, and its routines and rules. Seeing favourite characters having fun with friends at school can make the prospect far more appealing, and many popular children’s characters, from Peppa Pig to Spot, have books about going to school.
A final word
If, as a parent, you’re concerned about your child starting school, doing all of this together will help. Make sure you have someone on hand who you can talk to once your child is safely on the bus – tears from mum on the first day are perfectly natural, and a cup of tea with a good friend or grandparent will help you get through to the end of that first day. From then on, the rest is easy. Or easier, at least!
Easy Peasy Services
81B Sai Kung Road, Sai Kung
2468 3749 | easypeasyservices.com