We have all been through different transitions in our life, for example moving home or starting a new job. Or can we clearly remember when we started school? These transitions in life all bring a variety of emotions (perhaps excitement, happiness, sadness,loss etc) and whether they are positive or negative we, as adults, have a degree of choice to go through a certain transition. However, a child doesn’t have a choice when starting school and it is therefore imperative that we support them through this transition to school with the best of our intentions.
Image: Starting School. By, Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Involving your child in the process will help them to feel a degree of ownership and settle well into their new school.
The majority of schools, in the term before new children start, arrange a visit for all new children. The children are then able to meet their new teacher and spend some time in the classroom that they will be in. Your child may take part in one of the routines, like play time or have lunch. The teacher may also give you and your child relevant information about the school. For example if there is a uniform and any expectations from the school of your child and of you as a parent. If your child’s new school does not offer you a visit, it is advisable to contact the head teacher to organise a visit independently.
Be sure to discuss starting dates and if the school has a staged approach, for example a few hours a day leading up to full time. Also remember to state if your child has any additional and/or special needs that the school may need to accommodate.
Whilst preparing your child at home you could visit your local library and borrow a selection of books about starting school. In addition, help your child to create their own book around starting school, for example photos and anecdotes of them at different ages and stages of their development. These pictures will illustrate how they have grown over the years and that the next natural progression for your child is to start school. You could even take a photo of them in their uniform, one outside the school and one of their pre-start visit with their teacher.
The most important thing is to make sure that you are positive about the move and your behaviour and language reflects this, as children are very quick to pick up on the emotions of adults- whether or not they are positive or negative.
Your child’s pre-school setting (if they attend) will be doing a number of activities with your child to prepare them, for example reading books, talking about friends who have already moved on to school, increasing their independence and talking positively about starting school.
Be sure to discuss the move with other significant people in your child’s life such as grandparents/childminder /staff at nursery or pre-school and exchange information in order that they can fully support your child positively in their move to school.
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