The Transition to a New School Year – Strategies for Success
As the 2013 school year approaches, it is a great time to start thinking about how to prepare children for the change the New Year brings. Just as they have gotten used to the class routine, their classroom teacher, their aide, other support staff, classroom rules, the classroom dynamic and their fellow classmates, it is time to throw that all up in the air and start again. This can be very confusing and can often result in behaviour outbursts caused from lack of understanding and frustration, or for the child to disengage altogether; both scenarios mean that learning is left behind.
There are some simple steps you can take to prepare your child for the new school year. Repetition and visual supports are always useful when preparing your child for change. Below are some tips to support the transition into a new school year:
1. Mark the 1st day of school on the calendar using something the child associates with being positive (e.g. a happy face, a sticker etc.). Then, every day count down until the 1st day arrives!
2. Take photos of the new classroom, teacher, support staff and classmates so that your child can familiarise themselves with the new people and names they will be spending their day with.
3. If the locations of the child’s toilets and play areas have changed, show them where they are and how to get there from different areas of the school. Consider a buddy system until they feel comfortable navigating the new environment independently.
4. Rehearse saying the name of the school (if they haven’t learnt this already) and their class name.
5. Once you are able to establish the class routine, take pictures of each step and rehearse so that your child can go through the steps independently.
6. Revisit the general school rules and class expectations. Problem solving potential issues before they happen can be useful e.g. ‘If you need help in class, what can you do?’.
7. As your child gets older, the games that their peers play in the playground will change. Find out some of the age appropriate games that their age group enjoy and rehearse playing these with your child, explicitly explaining and demonstrating the rules. This will help them to interact appropriately and form friendships.
8. Have plenty of opportunities for success in their first week back. Talk with the classroom teacher and support staff to make sure that there will be tasks that your child can complete independently and that they enjoy so that they have positive feelings about their new classroom.
9. Give lots of positive praise for giving new things a go!
10. Relax! If you are relaxed about the changes ahead, your child will feel that and take your lead.