Do you have a child starting Kindy or Prep?
Taking that BIG step and attending kindy or prep can be overwhelming, exciting or sometimes a little bit of both. Although it can be overwhelming for our children, it can also be equally overwhelming for us parents. If we are a ‘first timer’ many of us may not have encountered a school setting since we left school ourselves!
Understanding the Emotional Separation Rollercoaster
The key stressor for young children is separation from their most significant grownup, who is their protector.
Our Kindy and Prep kids enter an environment of the unknown. There are lots of new people, routines to learn and expectations that are different to being at home in their safe space. All these things cause spikes in the hormone cortisol. This is the hormone that creates the stress symptoms you may see – crying, clinging, tummy aches, refusal to leave your side, poor appetite, restless sleep and even outbursts and tantrums.
This means the ‘downstairs brain’ is registering threat – and is acting accordingly and we need to reassure all our kids their response is valid and give them the empathy they need. .
Their natural response is partly because separation/change trigger our early warning system, which is essential for our survival. Until the change becomes familiar and predictable they will struggle and feel anxious.
What can I do to help reduce the stress for my little one?
Young children usually have strong imaginations. Here are 10 techniques that you can do to strengthen the connection between you and your little one – reducing the sense of separation.
- Help them create an imaginary protector – They imagine having their huge protector with them while they are away from you.
- As they leave home always place a kiss in their hand and close it to lock it in … it is also magic and stays there all day.
- Practise imagining you are sending them rainbows of love from your heart to theirs at recess and lunch and ask them to send one to you when they miss you.
- Teach them how to take 3 big breaths and breathe out the butterflies hiding in their tummy or gently rub their tummy telling the butterflies they are safe.
- Teach them how to calm themselves by singing ‘Round and Round the Garden’ in their hand while making circles in their hand, just as you would do – music and touch trigger feel-good hormones.
- Help build a special connection to one teacher or teacher assistant who can nurture their transition. Being honest and telling them you are leaving and will be coming back is better than
doing the ‘disappear’ trick as they need to be able to trust you.
- Sending them off with positive affirmations – “You are going to have a great day today! Look I can see your friend is here and the playdough is out which is your favourite!”
- Talk to them about their day and celebrate all the wonderful things they have learned and achieved.
- Tell them how proud you are of their bravery.
Becoming braver to manage being away from their safest grown up can take time. Participating in after school activities can foster and align with the development of positive social and emotional skills which is paramount to educational success and aligns with a smooth transition into their school years.
To find out more about how our preschool classes at Dance Kix foster school readiness, head to our website at www.dancekix.com