Lisa Archer, Educational & Developmental Psychologist, Strong Minds Psychology
Updated post from January 2018 with edits
So it’s almost time to go back to school and kinder. The kids may be ratty, the house a mess of toys, and you’ve got contact and name labels all over you!
Whether your child is headed off for their first day, or they are well into school, some of these tips might be helpful during the settling in period.
- Playground Visit
Pack a picnic, or the scooter, and head down to the school playground. Of course we know that the kids usually know how to go down the slide, and how to get across the monkey bars, but a visit before school goes back can be a big confidence booster!
- Invite a friend from their new class, or rekindle a friendship
- Try a new section of the playground – growing happened over Christmas!
- Practice using the drinking taps
- Find the closest toilet to your “grade” playground
- Take a peek through the new classroom window – it might look different from last year
2. Morning Routine
Work together to create a morning routine. This can help to increase independence, reduce us parents repeating ourselves constantly, and decrease cranky nagging each day. Include jobs they are already able to do, as well as those that may need a little help or teamwork (e.g. pack bag, shoes on). Children who have regular home tasks or chores feel a sense of belonging and purpose, which increases resilience!
- Use words AND pictures for each task for those who can’t read yet (or to make it look fun!)
- Print online pictures or draw them together (print photos of your child doing the task if that helps them understand better)
- Find a laminator – can then re-use the chart every day with whiteboard marker
- If you have time, practice sometimes in the next two weeks before school or kinder begins
- When asked “what’s next?” you can just suggest they check the chart
3. “Wear” in that uniform
Engagement, mood and learning will all be better if you have a comfortable student headed out the door. Try these ideas to reduce sensory discomfort or cranky first morning drop offs.
- Extra wash or two of the uniform
- Cut off tags or spare buttons
- Wear new school shoes around the house – jump, dance, run, wiggle & play
- Check out second-hand options for your next uniform purchase
Knowing where you are going, what you are doing, and what you will need can be more easily recalled if you hear it AND see it! Take photos of what you have organised above – fun times in the playground, where to line up in the morning, where the toilets/drink taps/office are, etc. They can then look on your phone, tablet, or camera, and talk about what they have seen (or you can print off a story book for them to check in bed or car on the way to drop off).
5. Letter to the teacher
For kindergarten and early primary children, this would need to come from a parent/caregiver. Older primary children may be able to write this, and learn to advocate for themselves. Look out for another post with a full example of how to write this letter, but here are some key points to include, if you are concerned about those early days with the new teacher.
- Some favourite activities – both home and kinder/school
- Things that are tricky – e.g. loud noises, division, reading aloud in front of class
- Things that help – e.g. dot points of instructions on the board, check in after a few minutes, wobble cushion on the chair/mat
- What has been working so far at home – that way they know from the start that you want to be part of a team to support your child
Stay posted for more tips on the return to school in 2019- for secondary students, parents, and the letter to the educator.
If you need additional support helping your child to settle into kindergarten or primary school, call the team at Strong Minds Psychology on 5967 1438, or complete the form below. Our clinicians are passionate about working together to help children to be the best they can be, and support both caregivers and educators on that journey!
About the Author:
Lisa is an Educational & Developmental Psychologist, and the founder of Strong Minds Psychology. Lisa has a decade of experience working in & with school staff to support the educational, social, & emotional needs of children throughout their school career, and beyond. Lisa thrives on working with people in a team approach, creating positive support networks for children and adults. She provides assessments, counselling and therapy – helping with stress, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, grief & loss, social skills, and anger management.