Guest Blog Written By: Teresa from Anchor Your Success
It’s that time of the year again! Our educators are very busy wrapping up the school year; forming new classes, reviewing the needs of each child and how to best help them. In the world of education even though it’s the end of the school year, this is the time to prepare, plan and organize for next year.
Prior to the start of the new school year, those who are registered for Junior Kindergarten will be invited to a group meeting at their home school. This is the opportunity for your child to interact with their fellow classmates, meet their teachers, see their classroom and in some cases have a small tour of the school. The process of registering your child for school appears to be quite simple and in most cases it is, however, each child is unique. Take this opportunity to express your concerns and any needs your child has.
From the time we bring our little ones home from the hospital we love them ferociously, wipe their tears, kiss each scrape, and suddenly you find yourself sending them off to school, all at the ripe old age of 4 or in some cases 3. Some children are ready for school and a structured learning environment; however, this is not the case for many children. It is extremely difficult as a parent to loosen the reigns and allow your magnificent little one to follow their journey.
During the first 4 years of your child’s life you have had the ability to really see your beautiful child grow, develop and form their own little personality. As a parent you are able to see your child’s qualities, their strengths and also areas of need. Does your child have any special needs, challenge, or anything which will impede an easy transition as they start school? When there are areas of concern, it can be easy to sweep it under the carpet and pretend it doesn’t exist. However, this approach will only work for a short period of time.
We have all heard the saying “ignorance is bliss” unfortunately this is not the case when it comes to school. When you send your children off to school they are left with their own coping strategies; the strategies a 4 year old uses when they are experiencing distress is not effective or perceived as wholesome. What steps are necessary to take, so the end result is an easy transition for your child?
Both the public school system and separate school board have access to really great resources. If you feel your child fits the criteria of needing extra assistance, take the initiative to make an appointment with the school Principal to discuss options. It may feel intimidating at first to discuss your child with a school official, however, there is no one who knows your child best, or who can advocate as diligently as you can. Before the meeting with the school Principal, it would be beneficial to have your thoughts clearly written down, and have a list of what you feel your needs are. Listed below are some examples of concerns you might experience:
- Does your child experience difficulty with transition?
- Does your child experience anxiety when left in group settings or anyone they do not know?
- Does your child appear to be hyper active?
- Are there any signs of Speech/Language delay?
- Is social communication an area of concern?
- Is your child at their appropriate developmental level with their cognitive learning?
Taking the approach to discuss any concerns you have prior to the school year, might seem extremely eager, however, the ultimate result is for your child to have all the resources they need in place for their first day of school.
The first day of school is a day filled with high energy and nervousness, most of the time it’s harder on you the parent than it is on the child. For children who suffer separation anxiety, preparation in advance is essential. Anxiety is one of those invisible creatures who you cannot see; however, the end result is stressful and sometimes damaging. There have been many excellent books with beautiful resources on how to deal with anxiety, giving great tools and techniques.
Being a parent of a child who has suffered moderate anxiety, I have researched and tried many techniques. Children learn in simple terms, they are creative and use imaginary play. One of the many techniques I have used with my own child is “create the movie”. Have your child close their eyes and visually create the movie of Mom or Dad dropping them off at school or the school bus. When visualizing ask your child; what do you see, what sounds do you hear, make the movie big and play it. Creating the internal movie of success is easy for a child to accomplish; they spend most of their time in imaginary play. I have always let my child know that during any peak times of stress or nervousness, he could go into his imaginary filing cabinet, pull out a movie and play it.
The role of teacher is not one to be taken lightly; most children never forget their first teacher and they remember them in detail. When you ponder and think about it, your child will be spending the majority of their time with their teacher. Your child’s teacher is the doorway that leads to knowledge; the knowledge of what your child is doing, hearing and learning when you are not there. Take the initiative to hear positive feedback and ask questions of how your child is progressing. This approach will allow an open flow of communication between yourself and the teacher. Our main objective as a parent is to get the very best possible resources for your child; we can do that by creating a team environment, working along with the school and providing any additional resources.
Taking a proactive approach on your child’s school career will be something that you will not regret. Our children are greatest investment; there is no investment out there with a higher rate of return. Regardless of how intimidated we might feel, or it can be in our nature to be shy, or experience fear there is no one better suited to advocate. Advocating in a professional, diligent manner will get you the results you need for your little one.