Help your child with the transition to school using play
Talking about change and emotions with young children can be tricky. Sometimes it helps if the child has a teddy or other toy they can relate to in the situation instead of themselves. This helps your child to talk about a situation ‘safely’ and explore how the toy might feel. It also gives you the opportunity to talk about situations and model different strategies for your child.
For example, you might say, ‘If teddy needs to go to the toilet when he’s at school what shall we tell him to do? Chat about different answers with your child, ‘Yes Teddy could say to a grown up: please can I go to the toilet?
Here are some ideas for having fun with Teddy.
- Take photos of your child with teddy when you go to buy school uniform. You could even cut out some paper clothes for teddy or perhaps someone you know can make a mini set of clothes! You could talk to your child about the different items and the order to put them on/take them off. Try problem solving together – Teddy can’t get his jumper off, what could he do? Teddy has lost his bag and he’s feeling upset, what can we tell him to do?
- Pack a lunchbox for Teddy – talk with your child about healthy options, what to eat first etc. Schools are likely to have a healthy eating policy and sweets/chocolate/fizzy drinks may not be allowed so talk about this with Teddy. Explain Teddy could have his treat when he gets home from school.
- Involve your child in packing a lunchbox for themselves and Teddy and go on a picnic together. Check your child can open their lunchbox, peel a banana, open a yoghurt and so on by asking them to ‘help’ Teddy.
- Rehearse your journey to school and take photos of Teddy at different points along the way. Use these to talk about the journey with your child and what happens at different points. For example, Teddy must hold on to the pushchair when we cross the road. Teddy is excited when he comes round the corner and sees the school, does he know which gate to go in?
- Use Teddy to help establish a bedtime routine – you could talk about how tired Teddy might feel after having so much fun at school!
- Talk about how Teddy is feeling – give your child different words to describe feelings. Rather than just saying Teddy is feeling happy or sad you could add in reasons and other words. For example, Teddy is excited about starting school because he wants to play in the big playground. You could try saying Teddy is feeling a bit worried – I wonder why? Your child’s suggestions may give you an idea of the things that are concerning them.
- Use Teddy to talk to your child about what makes them feel better when they are sad, upset or angry. For example, you might say: Teddy is upset, I know when you’re upset you like to have a hug or we get a drink of water. Let’s see if Teddy likes that.
- You might want to involve Teddy in all your summer activities – take photos going to the shops, playing in the paddling pool, on the swings at the park etc. You and your child may like to make a scrapbook of Teddy’s adventures. This is a great way to remind your child of all the things they have done and how they have been getting ready to go to school. For example, Do you remember when Teddy came with us to buy school uniform? When we used your new lunchbox at the beach? Making your own book or printing off a couple of photos would be a lovely thing for your child to take into school and share with their new teacher – a sure conversation starter!