Child Paths are proud partners of the Adult and Child Therapy Centre. They are a multi-disciplinary team who provide a holistic service to children and their families. Over the last number of weeks, they have been preparing children for their move into Primary and Secondary school, and here is their top tips to help both children and parents have a smoother run-up to their big day.
If you live close enough to your child’s school pass by it a couple of times and be positive when you see the building so that your child is familiar with the surroundings.
- Discuss how you might walk up to school or where you might park your car when you are dropping them off.
- Practice classroom etiquette such as asking to go to the bathroom, sitting at a desk (you may have one at home), and practice sitting in their chair and asking for their teachers’ attention by raising their hand.
- Promote whole body listening – which includes a quiet body and quiet hands as well as looking and listening.
- Encourage independence skills – hanging up a coat, putting things into and taking things out of a schoolbag, looking after personal belongings such as pencils, books, bathroom routine i.e., remembering to wash hands.
- Practice morning routines such as news telling and what the weather is like on a particular day.
- Layout their uniform on the first day. This will be one less thing for everyone to worry about and creates organisation in the morning routine
- Be consistent with your morning routine. Children thrive in routine, and they will rely on you to model this behavior. Making their bed first thing in the morning begins the day well and sets them up for success in their day.
- If your child is nervous or shy, don’t let your concerns be shown. Labeling them as quiet or even loud will mean they are more than likely always going to be this way, when in fact, starting a new school may bring out a new child.
- Making sure that they have plenty of time – a lot of us tend to be rushing in the morning, and if a young person is feeling anxious, this can trigger their fight/flight response.
- Practice looking at your child’s timetable with them, subject, teacher, and setting i.e., home economics room or science lab. Creating conversation around their new setting.
- Encourage advanced planning and consistent routines (to reduce anxiety) of packing school bags the night before rather than the morning of, set a bedtime and morning alarm time,
- Chat about the logistical differences between secondary school and primary school (e.g., teachers, moving between classrooms)
- Homework routines – Have a shared discussion with your child regarding consistent routine for homework (ask them what works best, where they are going to do their homework, what distractions do they need to remove, and both agree to honour the routine. Allow them time after school to do something that brings their energy up so they can recharge their batteries.
- Academic language: Your child will be encountering lots of new academic vocabulary in school e.g., discuss, describe, explain, give an example, outline, compare and contrast. Set up your child for success by discussing what these words mean and what they may suggest in terms of answer length and type of information that’s needed.
- Modeling and encouraging a growth mindset while acknowledging difficulties: “Change can be hard, and it takes time for us to get used to it. It is ok if you are finding this hard.”
Then shifting them to :
-“What do you know today that you didn’t know yesterday?” (it might be an organisational piece such as don’t forget your books for all three classes, or a new person’s name, or a teacher they like)
– One thing that went well today
– Something they enjoyed
One of the most positive things about secondary school is the opportunities it creates. Your primary school might have had one of two clubs or sports teams you could join but at secondary school there are clubs for every interest.
Allowing your child to have a varied approach to their school life by participating in various activities creates balance in their school experience. This will help create an overall more positive school experience while tapping into other areas of their personalities.
The above was provided by:
Christina Caffrey (Speech and Language Therapist) soon to be Primary School Teacher
Miriam E Mahdi (Occupational Therapist)
Aoife O’Neill (Cognitive Behavioural Specialist)
All part of the team at the Adult and Child Therapy centre.
Just like Adult and Child Therapy, Child Paths strive to support children. Contact us today for more information!