Here are some thoughts....
How do children deal with the new routine of prep?
I wonder what it would be like for a five year old on his first days at prep? Would he feel happy, sad, afraid, excited or angry? If so how would he express his feelings?
If he was at kindergarten, childcare or at home with Mum, he would know what to do. But school is different. There is a routine to be followed, a teacher who encourages him to learn, lots of listening he has to do and there are new children he doesn't know. Just as we all cope with change in different ways, some children will be able to adapt to change more easily that others.
For the little boy who finds change difficult, being able to express his confusion can be very helpful. Research tells us that children of this age do not have the words to describe such feelings and so they show them through change in behaviour. For beginning preps, behaviours such as crying and temper tantrums, restlessness, changes in eating, refusal to comply, sleeping difficulties and aggression are not uncommon.
What can parents do to support their beginning preps?
Some parents have told me that putting aside some special time with their child was helpful. They found that it gave them an opportunity to talk with her about her feelings. Through such a discussion they came to a better understanding of how their child was coping with the changes. Having such an understanding can be beneficial to choosing suitable after school activities. Would it be better to hold back on after school activities that might cause more stress? Or would such activities provide a welcome relief?
What type of activities are beneficial for new preppies?
An incredibly valuable activity is play. Unstructured play can help children express their feelings and reduce their stress. It includes playing in the sand, construction, dressing up, creating new games and play things with cardboard and other materials. Children can play by themselves or with friends and family. Not only is play important for children's social, emotional and cognitive development, but it can provide freedom, fun and relaxation after a routine day at school.
I observed how tired my children were in the early days and weeks of their attendance at prep. Their tiredness was cumulative. Some weeks they had lots of energy and other weeks not so much. So the family and I could cope with the presenting behaviours that accompanied transition into preschool, after school activity was kept to a minimum. Play at home or a friend's house suited our family's needs. As each child adapted to the school routine and the tiredness was not so prevalent, we reviewed the possibility of other activities after school. Some of my children were happy to play at home and chose not to take part in other structured after school activities till they were older. Some parents reported that more structured activities like drama and swimming were suitable. I learnt that talking and listening to my children helped me choose what activities best suited their needs at the time.
Helpful websites for parents: