Supporting the Transition - Kathy Walker

Full article from the Term 4 No 1 2006 Newsletter

Starting school is an exciting time for the whole family.

In the year before a child is due to start school, providing additional opportunities for children to practice some independent and self help skills is a useful and reasonably easy process to introduce at home.

Ensuring the family routines and the lead up to the commencement of school is well thought through helps to make the first experience of school a positive time for the child.

Strategies that can promote independence and self help skills.

  • Prompting children to carry their own kindergarten or child care bag into the program and home again rather than the parent carrying it.
  • Encouraging children to dress themselves (leaving plenty of time for them to do this will save parent frustration!)
  • Encouraging the child to express what it is they are wanting or needing rather than pre empting and providing everything before they have asked.
  • Letting children answer questions from others without the adult intervening or always answering for the child because it is quicker.
  • Giving practise to children in conversation and thinking about things, such as, "how do you think this might work? "or" how might we solve this?"
  • Giving children practise at making some choices and following through with their decision.

Strategies that promote a sense of belonging and contribution to a group

  • Setting a few simple jobs specifically for the child such as setting the table sometimes or collecting the mail.
  • Sitting together at a meal time, chatting and listening to each other.
  • Ensuring a regular bed time and routine before bed and sleep is important. If children are revved up, over excited and over stimulated in the hour before bed, they are more likely to find it difficult to calm down and settle at night.
  • Consistent routines, a relaxed bath time, a story together, a chat about the day are all part of the process of going to bed. Allowing time of about 1 hour for these things rather than a mad rush just before the designated bed time helps build a pattern and predictability for the child. Children love to have time to talk and read with their parents at the end of the day when it is quiet and relaxed. It is a lovely way to finish a day for the child and parent.
  • Over weekends, some flexibility is important, however children respond well to routines, even though they resist them. It helps a child to feel emotionally secure to know that routines are predictable.
  • It is sometimes difficult with shifts and the wide variety of workplaces to find the time to eat together around a table without the television on in the background. Mealtime can often be a valuable time for the family to share thoughts, experiences and chat together.
  • Avoid too much TV and video games. Children need rest time and quiet times and not to be exposed to too much TV.
  • Attend all orientation and transition sessions at the school.
  • Give them time and familiarity with the school uniform if the school has one. Don’t save it to the first day. Let them be comfortable with it and be able to dress themselves.
    Copyright © Kathy Walker 2006