Transition to School
You are helping your child by being a role model and example, by being an empathetic listener and supporter and by being an encourager. If you want your child to be confident and positive and able to take new risks, then you will model that same behavior. You will help by listening to your child and giving her the time to share (or not share) her day. You will help your child as you encourage them in their new class, with their new teachers and new friends.
But what about YOU? You are helping yourself as you focus on how you can do those things to help your child, because when you do, you become a better parent, listener, supporter and encourager. Secondly, as you allow yourself to feel your own emotions you become better at processing them and being able to let them go. So go ahead and cry, just not around your child, so they don’t pick up your emotions and try to tote those and their own. Thirdly, as you go through another “letting go” of your child, you learn to trust others to care about your child too and you learn to trust your own child. You trust they will use their words to let others know what they want or need (they certainly do that with you!); you trust that they will play with someone (they certainly play at home, at the neighbor’s, at their cousin’s house and at camp), and you trust they will learn.
This school that loves and values children, gives them a voice, creates thinkers and problem-solvers, and meets children where they are and challenges them to grow and learn beyond what you can imagine trusts your children too. And remember, you are a lifelong learner and growing too! So I encourage you today to focus on trust.
School’s About to Start: How to Help Your Child Transition to a New Class or to School
At Virginia Chance School, we are all preparing for and feeling excited about our first day of school in mid-August and I hope you are too. I know for children new beginnings (a new school, new classroom, new grade level, new friends, new teachers are all beginnings) can be both exciting and scary. You are instrumental in helping your child start the year with a positive attitude and eager anticipation and helping them feel comfortable and at ease. Please know that being anxious in a new situation or transition is a normal feeling. Even returning students can feel anxious because they will be in a new class, have new classmates and teachers. Parents can feel anxious too. Your Opening Conference with your child’s teachers will help you by providing a time for you to share with the teachers, get your questions answered and learn about the ways your child will learn and grow this year. You can help your child—Think CONNECT:
- Connect with a friend.
Find a friend from your child’s class and get them together. Meet in a park and play? Have a playdate? Talk on the phone? Connecting before school starts helps them know their friend will be looking for them on that first day!
- Connect with the school.
Visit the school, walk his path to his new classroom space, play on the playground, practice walking up the steps, or find a favorite toy or object in their new classroom. Talk about what she already knows and likes, what changes she sees, and what he wants to do or learn this year. In and outside the building, Virginia Chance School is busy making preparations to be just right for your child’s first day, so point out how everyone is getting ready for the new school year.
- Connect with the teachers.
You and your child will meet and conference with your teachers before school begins. Mark this special day on your calendar and on her calendar too. In addition, help your child connect emotionally to his new teachers by talking about the teachers: “Ms. Amy plays tennis just like you!” “Mrs. Abell and Ms. Isham will be so surprised that you can already write some of your lower case letters.” “Do you think your teachers would like to have a picture you painted at your summer art class?” “Ms. Hannaa and Ms. Angie have a sensory table in their room—they will love to see how well you can explore and tell stories about what you find.” and “I have heard that Ms. Maureen and Ms. Jenny love books and reading just like you do and that you will get to make books too!”
- Connect with their successes.
Build on your child’s successes in the past—in and outside of school. Reminders of past accomplishments can motivate them for new ones in the future. “You love to have fun and learn new things—that is what you will do each day” “You already know how to share and play with other friends, so you will do that with this class too” “You had such a fun time in Outdoor Adventures last year—I wonder if you would like to do that again” “I remember how well you handled that tough situation on the playground and how you worked that out—you have that skill for anything you need this year too” “You read so many books this summer and you have grown in your reading skills—you will enjoy your new literature groups this year” and “You are such a big girl now that you’ve had your third birthday—you are ready for this” are all ways to talk about what your child has done and can do.
- Connect with you.
Reassure your child that you will be rooting for them, supporting them and that you will be at carpool to pick them up, at home waiting for them, or will see them right after work. Write a note for his backpack and have him write a note or draw a picture for your briefcase or purse. Find a small object for her backpack or totebag that reminds you of one another (the picture of your family at the beach, one of the rocks you found on a hike together, a tennis ball to remind him that you will play tennis together as soon as you get home, the book you have already picked out for read-aloud that night). You can make matching friendship bracelets to wear while you are apart or draw a heart or a ladder on his hand with a marker to remind him of your love and that you will help him go up and up. Talk about how when you are apart, your hearts stay connected and your love never leaves her. Also, practice saying goodbye! Establish a routine of how you say goodbye—“I love you; you love me; I will see you at 3!” “I go to work; you go to school, at night, we have fun together—that’s our rule!” “Have a great day; I love you in every way!” and the tried and true, “See you later, alligator” and its reply, “After while, crocodile.”
I promise you that our faculty and staff will be working to help your child be successful in every way too—socially, emotionally, morally, physically and intellectually. The way your child will be treated with dignity and respect at Virginia Chance is like no other school. It won’t be long until your child has made the transition to a new class with new friends and is begging to go to school. You might be begging for them to go too!
Looking forward to an exciting year with your child and with you!
Debbie Houston, Head of School