Smooth the 2012 school year start.
The school year for 2011 is just about over, and one group of Australian children have had a taste of the next 13 years! Those children are the group aged five years who have been involved in transition to school days. Starting primary school is an important milestone in a child’s development according to the Australian Psychological Society (APS), with a positive experience producing long-term benefits for future learning and relationships.
While we parents might think that our child has made it through the first day of school successfully, transition is an ongoing process that starts before a child leaves their early childhood setting and continues well beyond the first day of term. To encourage the best possible start for both children and parents, the APS, with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, has developed KidsMatter
Transition to School: Parent Initiative.
The initiative has developed a range of resources designed to support parents and carers in preparing their child for primary school, and aims to support care-givers throughout this time with a range of specialised resources that promote positive parenting practices for long-term wellbeing.
According to Professor Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the APS, most children transition from their early childhood setting to primary school smoothly, but it is a phase that can be stressful and challenging for some.
“Children communicate their emotions through their behaviour, so it’s not uncommon for a child experiencing stress to become clingy, restless or nervous, to revert to younger behaviours like bedwetting and thumb sucking, refuse to follow rules, throw tantrums or even act aggressively,” she said.
In fact, research suggests that around one third of children have some problems, and one in five experience serious difficulties during transition. If not addressed, these problems can have ongoing academic and social implications.
“While we tend to think children will grow out of problematic behaviours, there is research to suggest that as many as half will not,” Professor Littlefield said.
“The patterns of behaviour and achievement that are established in the initial stages of school can often remain beyond the early years. It is important children have positive social and academic experiences from the beginning.”
Kay Margetts, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Studies at the University of Melbourne, says KidsMatter Transition to School provides much needed and valuable resources.
“It builds on what schools are already doing and helps parents and carers understand the transition process and what it means for children and also themselves as parents and carers,” she said.
“The initiative includes impressive resources that provide useful information and practical ideas for building children’s confidence and supporting their social, emotional and academic success as they prepare for and settle into school,” Associate Professor Margetts said.
The initiative includes four information booklets that parents can download.
1.Setting the scene
Explores some of the changes children will experience, the skills they already possess to help them during transition, and some further ideas for activities and strategies parents and carers can use to help their children prepare for primary school.
Explores the feelings and emotions about the changes involved in starting school. It assists parents and carers to understand how their child copes with change and provides strategies for helping children to make a positive transition.
Accompanying this booklet is a handy Starting school plan (PDF, 789KB) with suggestions to help families prepare for school.
3. Settling in
Provides strategies for parents and carers to assist their child to cope during challenges and difficult situations, and provides some ideas around where parents and carers can get more assistance if necessary.
4. Looking forward
Provides information about social and emotional learning and how parents and carers can support their child’s development of these skills. This booklet also provides information on the importance of parents and carers working with the school to support their children’s ongoing social, emotional and academic development.