Starting school can be an anxious time for both parents and children, however you can all do something to help relieve the anxiety and have a safe and confident start to school.
While the early years are important in helping the child become into their own person, school is another stepping stone to becoming a confident, healthy individual. It is about understanding their strengths while supporting those qualities they may not be so good at to excel at school.
The My Time My Place framework for schools suggest that educators and parents think about their own transitions, how it felt and how they managed it to understand the perspective of the child/ren. Additionally, it can be more difficult for children who have autism, as they will need to be reminded before the transition what it will be like. It will also be helpful if you have a child with autism to have him/her meet the teacher, their classroom and discuss the structure of the school day so he/she will be prepared in advance to help manage their anxiety of the unknown.
When children transition well into the school environment they will feel a sense of belonging. The sense of belonging will give them increased confidence, inter-dependence, autonomy, resilience, a sense of agency, and a stronger sense of identity.
As an educator you may want to ask your students what helped them transition well, what did not help so you can understand how to improve your process the next time.
Transitioning well includes listening to the child/ren's feelings, what they think about it, talking to them in advance about the transition, visiting the school and the teacher/s before they start, talking about your own start to school and how you managed it well, visiting the school's website to learn about what they do including their fun experiences, talking about what education will do for the child in the future such as achievements and practical experiences such as being able to count their birthday money and write a Christmas wish list. Most of all it is important for the teacher to get to know the child including their uniqueness which may include learning their interests, what bores them, how to engage them, and what sets them off.
Transitioning into school is a great start to a new journey of self discovery and possibilities. Hope this helps to make it an enjoyable one!
Josephine from jb Consulting and Psychology is a
mental health, behaviour and learning intervention and consulting specialist for children, young people, those with dementia or ADHD, and the workplace.