by Mrs Roxburgh, Junior School Assistant Head Teacher who is in charge of Pastoral Care for P4-7.
With the holidays upon us, many of you will be thinking about your child’s transition into the Junior School, a new class or even Senior School. Moving to a new Year Group is an exciting time but it is also normal to feel anxious about the changes ahead, particularly when they have been in lockdown for so long. Our Junior School teachers have come up with some creative ways to help our children prepare for the changes ahead and you will find lots of videos, interactive maps and practical information on Firefly to help your family prepare.
During the summer months, there are lots of other things that you can do at home to help create a positive mindset about the changes ahead:
1. Listen to their fears
Talk to your child about the changes they are facing and ask if there is anything they are unsure or worried about. It’s a common parent reaction to say ‘it will be fine’ and dismiss their fears in an attempt to reduce anxiety, but it can be more helpful to spend time listening and acknowledging that they are feeling worried and discussing options for what they can do.
2. Find creative ways to help them express any concerns
Some children find it difficult to express the emotion they are feeling. You could try painting some different expressions on to cards or pebbles (worried, excited, sad, confused, etc) to help your child recognise and name their emotions and open up about how they are feeling.
3. Be positive
It’s important to be positive when you talk about the transition to their new class. If they hear you talking positively about how much they will enjoy school, the exciting opportunities that await them and emphasising the good things, they are more likely to adopt a positive mindset.
4. Share your own experiences
Help your child to see that feeling anxious is completely natural by telling them about your own experiences of starting a new school, a new class or even a new job. Focus also on sharing the positive emotions and stories you have when you reminisce about happy times from your school days.
5. Get prepared
Try to prepare for their first day by talking about what will happen from when they wake up, to when they go to bed. If there are aspects of the day that trigger negative emotions, spend some time talking about how they could manage these situations. Over the summer, take your child past the school, pointing out where their entrance will be.
6. Get into good sleep habits
Don’t wait for the first day of school to introduce a good sleep routine. If your child has been going to bed later over the holidays, start to move their bedtime backwards by ten minutes every night until you are back on your normal bedtime schedule. It is common to assume that children need less sleep as they get older, but The Sleep Foundation recommends that children aged between 6 and 13 get between 9 to 11 hours sleep a night.
7. Help them to become more organised and independent
The summer holiday is a good time to introduce chores and tasks that require more planning and organisation. Encourage your child to pack their own bags for a picnic or sports activity, or write out a shopping list or add things to the family calendar. Fear, frustration and loss are normal human feelings and they don’t have to be chased away. Acknowledge them and accept them as normal - those feelings will pass. The good thing about change is that it brings the possibility of growth and excitement and joy.
Thank you to Ms Roxburgh for these tips that we hope parents with children of all ages will find helpful.