Starting School

Preparing your child for transitioning into school for the first time can be a difficult time for many. Tiredness, anxiety and meltdowns can be a common occurrence at this time of the year, so we wanted to write this blog to give you some top tips on how to best prepare your child (and yourself!) for starting school.

Getting prepared before school starts

The best way to prepare your child for this transition, is to tackle it before the meltdowns begin! There are a few things that can be done before school even starts to help prepare your child.

  1. Create a story about life at school such as how you will get to school, the teachers there, the daily schedule etc. This allows your child to have an idea in their mind of how the day will go and therefore will reduce anxiety.
  2. Get your child to draw their emotions and thoughts about school. This is a great way of finding out exactly how your child is feeling about starting school and can help to identify any extra supports that need to be put in place.
  3. Get your child to draw any worries they may have about school. What does it look like, does it have a colour? How big is it? Where can you feel the worry in your body? This helps build a healthy, emotionally intelligent, well integrated brain. You can then brainstorm some support strategies with your child so that they can feel empowered by being part of the problem solving process.
  4. Read books about starting school/write your own. This is another way of helping to reduce the anxiety of going to school and will allow your child to feel more in control and aware of the process, what to expect, feelings they may have etc. One of our favourites is Chomp goes to school! 
  5. Talk about all the exciting, positive things about starting school. This helps to encourage your child to feel positively about the transition and reduces worries and negative thoughts
  6. Get to know the school and teachers so that it feels like a safe place for your child to learn and grow
  7. Get your child involved positively with lunch ideas, choosing a lunchbox, drink bottle, coat, uniform etc

Common Challenges

Whilst we may try our best as parents to prepare our children as much as we can for the transition into starting school, there are many common challenges that you may face while your child adjusts and copes with the separation. These challenges may include:

  • After school meltdowns
  • Separation anxiety
  • Increase in acting out behaviours e.g. aggression, rudeness, hair trigger responses
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Increased anxiety
  • Increase in body complaints – tummy aches, headaches etc

However don’t worry! Here are some strategies to support your child in adjusting to the new changes:

 

Strategies to support your child for starting school

  1. Put a note or love heart in your child’s lunchbox to let them know you are thinking of them
  2. Create goodbye rituals to help your child manage the separation more easily e.g. high five, special handshake, kissing hands ritual etc. There are some great books to help with separation anxiety such as The Invisible String and The Kissing Hand
  3. Resources: Allow your child to take their favourite teddy, comfort item and sensory support (e.g. chew necklace, squishy ball) to help them stay regulated through the day
  4. Create an after school ritual and be patient with any emotional meltdown – they will often be tired and kept their emotions in check all day
  5. Create family rituals at dinner time or just before bed – Creates connection and safety. Talk about high points and challenging points of the day. How did they overcome the challenge? This process helps build emotional intelligence, problem-solving, resilience and whole brain integration.
  6. Increase the family fun factor! Lots of creative, physical, imaginative play time to help your child feel safe and reconnect after their time apart, lower stress hormones, increases feel good hormones in the brain
  7. Encourage avenues for self-expression and confidence building – sport, music, dance, drama, art, music, writing, lego building
  8. Ensure they are getting enough rest, outdoor exercise/physical activity, and limited screen time

Also, some activities that are amazingly helpful for nervous system stabilisation and calming are:

  • Drumming
  • Beat patterns
  • Singing
  • Jumping on trampoline
  • Rocking, dancing, swinging
  • Throwing a ball
  • Mindfulness exercises (which physically rewire our brains!)
  • Breathing
  • Guided stories, quiet music and CDS
  • Music or meditation at bedtime to help their brains shut down for sleep
  • Fun Family yoga poses
  • Massaging hands and feet with lotion and talking about the day
  • Fidget toys and other sensory supports such as weighted products (which can help to calm overactive nervous systems), nice smells, fabrics, squishables, liquid visual timers etc.

Wondering what kind of items you can use to help prepare your children for the transition into school life? Check out our online store to see some of my favourite, most used items such as:

Where can I get more information?

To find out more about the services we offer here at Artistic Revolutions, check out our website here: http://artisticrevolutions.com.au/