"Providing you with tips and expert advice on helping your child get ready for Big School"
“Your children will be starting a new school year in 2017, with moving from nursery to ‘Big School’. From a psychologist’s point of view, what can you tell parents to help them mentally prepare their child for the new transitions? How can you also help a parent? Sending your kid to Big School is an emotional occasion for the entire family.
You may remember your first day at school; it might have been a happy occasion or maybe it brought back memories of how scared you’d been. Whatever it was for you, always remember that your positive attitude will help your child through his/her transition and this very important life event,” advises Ms Kahandaliyanage, Consultant Education and Behaviour Therapist
For many children, the transition from nursery to ‘Big School’ poses a drastic change. Despite the fact that most will be transitioning within the same school, the surroundings, inclusive of teachers and rules, will be more regimented and less accommodating than before.
How will your child cope? How will you cope?
Yes there will be a million doubts, through which you will question if your kids are ready for the change. But Big School starts in a few weeks and rather than dwell on the ‘what if’, it is essential for us to emotionally prepare our children for what lies ahead.
1. Make the preparation fun! Moving to ‘Big School’ will necessitate a different wardrobe, and other school supplies. For some children, this might be the first time they have their own pencil cases with stationary and their own water bottles and lunch bags. Make shopping for school supplies a fun and interesting expedition; allow your child to give his/her input in choosing his/her school bag, water bottle and lunch box. They will be excited to be a part of the process and also keen to flaunt their newly chosen supplies. All these little things help to make the whole process exciting and diminish the trepidation they might feel.
2. Talk about the school; prepare them by saying that there will be changes in daily routines and that you understand that they may not like the changes. Validate their feelings and teach them about what these changes can bring. For example, tell them they may be able to put into practice everything that they have learnt at pre-school like colouring, counting and using the magic words and so on.
3. Remember not to bombard your children with too much information or project your expectations on them. Try to make it matter-of-fact rather making it a stressful big step. Children will react to your vibes, so remember not to make negative remarks like “oh I hated school” or “I was not very happy but hope you will be”. Practise social skills like turn taking, waiting and listening with them. Praise your child and tell him/her that he/she is ready for Big School. Give them the confidence to feel that they are ready for the big step.
4. Remember to show them where the nurses’ station, the bathrooms and even the Principal’s office is, if they need any help. As a young child in a different environment, the feeling of anxiousness will be felt especially in the first week; this will hold them back in voicing their needs and wants. It’ll give them confidence to know where the bathroom is or where they can ask to call you if they are unwell. This security gives them reassurance and they will not feel abandoned.
Ms. Kahandaliayange suggests,
“Have a very special ‘first day of school breakfast’. You could teach them about our culture with a traditional breakfast of ‘kiribath’, telling them that’s how we celebrate new beginnings or you could make it very special by making your child's favourite breakfast to make him/her feel special.”
For many of us, our little ones starting the new chapter in their lives, will be a lesson. Giving it the due importance shows your children how much you love them, which in turn will build their confidence. A confident child is a happy child, and much will be achieved.
Written by Mayuri Jayasinghe based on an interview with Malathi Kahandaliyanage, Consultation Education and Behaviour Therapist