As many may be enjoying the summer holidays, time if flying by and a transition to a new school may be looming. An amazing adventure ahead, it may also be nerve racking and full of emotions. We are currently experiencing just that at the moment so I thought I would share some specific activity ideas that parents can do with their child in transition to ease these big emotions and build some foundations and protective factors prior to starting school.
Transition to School Activities during the Summer Holidays
Talk about what is required in the new school: school uniform, resources and books. Make a list of what is required and a timeline as to how and when these items will be purchased or acquired.
Invite a friend who is going to the same school shopping for new equipment and resources to support relationship building and anchor points prior to starting school.
Arrange playdates or activities with a child who is going to the same school. This will help connections and relationship building.
Try the new uniform on, do practice runs of the morning routines to help build fluency and confidence in new routines.
Get ready for the new year by getting a diary or a calendar. Look at dates of events with your child and write these on the calendar. Discuss events coming up in the new year.
Have a walk on the grounds of the school (where permitted). If the grounds are opened, bring a ball and get some time around the grounds to familiarise yourself with the environment. Talk with your child about what you notice: where buildings are, how long it might take from one building to another, where to meet for pick up, etc. Make it fun, motivating and enriching.
Build in the day some enjoyable activities that are self-directed and organised so your child learns independence without structure. This may help develop inner motivation and self-confidence.
Notice your child’s strengths, qualify these, discuss these: ‘what does it feel like when you use this strength’, ‘what are the results/outcomes’, ‘how did you go about it’, ‘what made it a positive experience’. Compliment positive skills and habits.
Encourage learning moments that are incidental (part of daily living) and spark interesting and motivating conversations about specific topics such as new topics coming up at school. Encourage learning as part of family life such as playing games (Scrabble, Boggle, card games, chess). Games help developing social skills as well as motivation and curiosity for learning. Similarly, encourage your child to read or participate in a learning activity (experiments, arts and crafts).
Have a jar with specific inquiry topics where your child picks a topic and goes off to extend knowledge on that topic or make something related tot he topic. Alternatively, put posters of specific topics in the bathroom, the hall or bedroom to stimulate conversations about different topics and build confidence about learning new topics.
Continue to establish routines (although in the summer holidays the family may have a slower pace of life) where your child is contributing to family life and structures such as doing their chores and helping around the house. This may help developing self-discipline and time management. Encourage discussions around goals, structure, values and boundaries about the year coming up such as realistic expectations, ‘doing our best’, self-organisation and discipline, etc. Ask your child to list a few goals for the year and ways to achieve these. Conversations about values are important as a family as they tend to be the foundations of the rules and boundaries established in the family.
Most importantly, ensure the family has time to recharge batteries of energy and implement specific self-care strategies such as time to relax with some structured and unstructured time so that imagination, creativity and problem-solving are promoted.