Over the course of the weekend at Playstival I spoke to a lot of people about their shy or worried children and the first day of big school can be overwhelming for children who are prone to shyness.
There is such a huge build up to first day. Everyone they meet are asking ‘Are you excited about going to big school’? The answer is probably yes and no. They’re excited but they’re also terrified. It’s like all of us starting something new, it’s scary because we’re getting out of our comfort zone and going into the unknown.
There are a couple of things we can do to help and hopefully make the transition easier.
I find the car a great place for ‘the casual chats’ as there is not much else to do and they can’t get distracted. Ask them how they are feeling about starting school and if you get the feeling they are worried, reassure them that everyone feels the same way about their first day. I usually tell Belle a story of something that happened to me on my first day or make one up if you can’t remember. If the story has a funny ending it’s even better as the laughter takes away any worry.
Obviously I’m completely biased but books are a fantastic visual aid in explaining what school will be like. Reading is great for relaxation and also a great conversation starter. If there is a main character in the book, chat about how they think the character felt on their first day and talk through the emotions.
Another great one for kids is to literally get a big sheet of paper and draw it out. You don’t have to be a great artist for this just sketch some stick men and put names under them. Draw the school, the teacher, the classroom, your child and lots of friends. Fill the page with colour. Anything to help them get a visual idea of what is to come.
Another one that really worked for me was making it into a game. Belle was more nervous about her second week than the first so we made a game out if it. I called it ‘Jumping into the Day. It was basically a game to get her to positively visualize what the day or week would be like. I got her to stand far away from me and close her eyes. I then said ‘Okay, now I want you to take a BIG step into Monday’. She took a giant step and I started to describe what the day would be like. Something along the lines of ‘You’re walking into school with Daddy and you’re saying hello to all of your friends. Everyone is smiling. The teacher is at the door waiting to welcome you all in and she is looking so happy. Now, you’re all in the class and you’re sitting beside your friend and the teacher is asking you all about your weekend. Everyone is excited to be back in school and you have such a lovely day learning lots of new things. At yard time, you’re having so much fun playing games with everyone and time goes by so quickly. And now it’s time to come home and you see me at the gate and wave goodbye to everyone with a big smile.'
You can make these as long or as short as you like but it really helped Belle get over her second week nerves. To be honest, she can be quite cynical or suspicious for a child at times so I was pleasantly surprised when she ran up to me after this game, gave me a hug and told me she loved me.
The most obvious one but it’s important to talk about how fun school will be, how many interesting things they will learn and how they will make so many lovely friends. So no mentioning homework yet ; )
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