Written for Only About Children by Dr Kaylene Henderson, Child Psychiatrist and Parenting Expert
It probably seems like only yesterday that you were welcoming your little one into the world and now you’ve found yourself contemplating their upcoming move into ‘big’ school.
This change can feel daunting, and not just for our children.
So how can you set your child up for a smooth start to school?
Here are some tips to consider:
- Firstly, remember that it’s normal for children to feel apprehensive about this new transition. It’s important that we consider whether they’re ready to start and to prepare them as much as possible so that they feel safe, make friends and are ready to learn. While it’s helpful for your child to have other skills too, social and emotional competencies are the key factors to consider.
- If you remain unsure about when your child should begin school, consider seeking advice from your child’s current early years educator as well as the school principal of your chosen school.
- If you’re concerned about your child’s development in any way, consider seeking an assessment from your doctor and/or child health specialist. While this might feel confronting, I honestly believe that it’s better to have your child assessed, even if it’s to be told there’s nothing wrong, than to look back and wish that you’d acted earlier.
- Encourage your child to practice any skills that they’re yet to master.
- As your child approaches the beginning of the school year, consider how you can ease the transition by familiarising them with the environment, their teacher and the new routine as much as possible. Reading books about school or role playing any potentially tricky situations can be helpful too.
- Try not to let any anxiety or sadness you might have about this new life stage influence your child’s excitement.
- Consider whether you can use more process praise to foster a growth mindset and a love of learning in your child. Process praise draws attention to the effort, enthusiasm, ideas, concentration, persistence and problem solving approaches taken by your child. With a growth mindset, your child will be more likely to rise to challenges, try harder and be less likely to give up.
- Finally, remember that it will take time for your child to adapt to their ‘new normal’. At my children’s school, they celebrated their first 100 days, as by then, the children were more settled, having adapted to the newness of big school. Up until then, be gentle, be patient and allow enough space in your child’s week for downtime.
Soon enough, your child will be enjoying all the exciting opportunities that big school brings. You’ve got this.
Dr Kaylene Henderson is a highly trained, Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, one of Australia’s leading parenting experts and a grateful mother of three. She is also a trusted professional development provider for the early childhood education sector and a sought after media contributor and conference speaker. www.drkaylenehenderson.com
If you have any questions about school readiness, please speak with your Campus Director or Educators.
You can find more information about school readiness and Only About Children’s preschool/kindergarten programs here:
The following NSW and VIC Government websites also have some useful information on school readiness: