The end of any school year is both an exciting and daunting time for students. There is much excitement around all that has been achieved and the new possibilities which lie ahead, but there is also sadness around breaking the ties with a current teacher and nervousness around what the next year will be like.
Our wellbeing programs are all about developing the sense of character and supporting the emotional wellbeing of our students through building important self management skills. Our Zones of Regulation Toolbox and Rock and Water programs are wonderful reference points to help our students to be more emotionally aware and support them as they try to self regulate. The Friendly Schools program, which is embedded within our K-6 PDHPE programs, unpacks some of the complexity around friendships and building the skills of forging new friendships.
Our upcoming Step Up Day on Monday 23 November is a really important part of our students’ transition to the next grade, as it allows them to experience exactly what being in the next grade will be like – giving our students a taste of what is to come, providing some answers to their questions and giving them a greater sense of control and confidence to manage the changes ahead (Beyond Blue 2020). This day also serves to provide each child with a visual reference that can be replayed in their mind as they prepare for their first day in the new grade (c.Spence, 2020).
The few remaining unknowns are actually good for our students, building some anticipation and excitement around the return to school, as they wonder who is in their class and who is their teacher? This is the part where you need to trust the school. Staff make decisions about friendship placements based on what they believe is best for your child. We make strong distinctions between great friends and great friends for learning. We also believe an important part of friendship building is to continually give our students opportunities to broaden current friendship circles. By building in this friendship diversity, our young students are able to cope when special friends are absent or when disputes happen.
As for information about who will be your child’s teacher, our students are given this information a few days prior to returning to school. The timing of this information is deliberate, allowing just enough time for them to process the change before they actually meet them and form their own connections and impressions of that person. Not only do we know that all of our teaching staff are highly skilled, but research supports the need for students to experience teacher diversity if they are to grow as learners and global citizens (Nneka.A. Bennett, 2018).
Our final steps in the transition process are to support you as parents to ensure you approach this process in a positive way. Beyond Blue have some practical tips for parents as you prepare for the new year, “Tackling Back to School Anxiety” which I encourage you to follow.
Finally, a word of warning from the article that is worth noting:
“The start of the school year can be a nervous time for parents as much as kids, but it’s important to try and keep your own anxiety levels under control. The more you can stay calm and present school as a fun, positive experience – rather than a necessary evil – the better.”
Help us to help your child to stride into 2021 with confidence.
Mrs Sarah Jones
Stage 1 Coordinator