As we reach the summer holidays most children will have visited next years teachers and classrooms for the first time. For some this is enough to feel content and safe about the return to school. For others less so and some parents and carers will know only too well change can bring with it huge anxiety, loss of trust, anger and confusion. This is particularly, but not solely the case for children who are adopted or fostered.
Every year as a teacher and adoptive parent I notice how a lack of feeling of safety underpins many of the more specific worries that children have at the time of School Transition.
“We must shift from the common perception that transitions occur at a single point in time… Key transitions may take place across all phases of school, especially in Early Years and Further Education.”
Schools Week (July 2023)
From experience, I know at whatever age or stage, transition can herald all manner of challenges. Often parents know far more support is needed than a single transition day. Having been both the parent and the receiving teacher I have put togther my top tips on how you can help during the holidays.
For children and young people who have experienced relational and developmental trauma, where their relationships with adults have been characterised by inconsistent and unpredictable responses to their emotional needs, change will likely bring many particular challenges. It may bring deep anxiety, mistrust, anger, a deepening need to fight, flight or freeze.
Signs of Struggling – what you may see in your child.
- Having difficulties making/maintain friendships
- Challenges in keeping to daily routines
- Challenging behaviours
- Loss of interest in school
- Sudden change in mood
Parents, Carers – How does it feel for you?
Various feelings based on your personal experience of school or what other parents have said about a particular teacher or other staff member come up. You may have your own emotions of mistrust and apprehension. As a parent myself of adopted children who have both faced and go on facing real transition challenges, my key advice points for when you feel like you are struggling or drowning breathe in, have belief; stay with them…breathe out.
For more suppport around self regulation you can download our free guide for adults and teens here.
What Can I Do To Help As A Parent during the Summer Break? 5 Top Tips…
- Look after your relationship with your child! Spend as much time with your child/ren doing activities that are fun for them and you. PLAY can help to soothe, distract, connect. Experiencing connection helps children to navigate and embrace some of the challenges associated with transition a little more easily. Here is a link to our lumin&us app packed with play ideas to support your childs emotional wellbeing.
- Spend time with friends. Look into possibilities for your child to spend time with another child of similar age who is moving up into the same new class or new school. Or just enjoy playing with others and celebrate when this goes well. These positive experiences supported by you build self esteem.
- Research together. Find out more about the school by looking at the website with your child. It may be that questions and anxieties may surface in doing this but looking together and being curious at a similar time may help here. The characters and poster in our Cards To Help You Connect packs are perfect for exploring feelings.
- Role-play! If your child is starting at Nursery or Reception, or early primary years, carry out role play activities together (you can pretend to be teacher or vice-versa,) read stories, play “I Spy,” talk about their teacher. NetMums has it all covered with 50 Ideas for young children starting school
- Create safety with structure and predictability. This helps them (and you) to maintain calm as well as excitement and positivity in anticipation of change-a-coming.
Pete Brindley is a Teacher, former School Senior Leader and Group Theraplay Facilitator at Beacon Family Services and can be contacted on 0121 270 0592
For more information about how Theraplay® Groups could help you and your child OR/AND your child’s school, contact Pete on the number above or email firstname.lastname@example.org