Starting Prep can be a time of great excitement as well as some stress – for you and your child! During times of transition, children can experience elevated anxiety as new experiences can feel unknown and unpredictable. It is important to remember that all children will adjust differently and that is okay! No two people are exactly the same, so it is important to give your child and yourself some time to adjust and understand that transition to Prep is a process. For children who have developmental disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, the transition can be particularly stressful so it important to put in place strategies to support your child to make a successful transition.
Here at Kids At Max, we want your child to be happy, to succeed at school and to feel confident and secure during their transition to Prep. Here are some ways to make the transition easier for your child and for you – regardless if your child has a diagnosed condition:
- As a parent, speak positively about Prep! Acknowledge any worries they may identify, but always speak in positive terms!
- Take them to visit the school during the school holidays. If you will be walking with them to school each morning, take this walk on the holidays. Some schools may have the playground open and if this is the case, it may be helpful to let your child play on the playground to familiarise themselves with the setting.
- During the school holidays, organise play dates with the friends that your child makes during Prep orientation days. They will then have a familiar face on their first day and possibly a buddy to play with at recess!
- Make a story about going to school. During Prep orientation, you can take pictures of their classroom, the playground, their teacher etc. These pictures can be used to make a book that can be used to prepare them for their new environment. This strategy is especially helpful if your child has a developmental disorder and if your child is prone to anxiety around changes.
- Ask your school to provide you with your child’s class timetable. Use this information to make a visual schedule for your child’s day that they can keep in their diary or on their desk at school. This schedule can be called ‘My Day’ and using velcro and laminated cards with pictures or words that describes the days activities. These cards are then placed in order of the time table on the child’s ‘My Day’ schedule. As a parent, you can assemble the schedule the night before using the class timetable the teacher provided and talk through the day’s activities with your child. A teacher may be able to help your child with this during the day as well. This strategy is particularly helpful for children with developmental disorders who require preparation for changes.
Remember it is okay for your child to have some level of worry – it is normal and will likely ease as they become familiar with their new routine, develop friendships and have fun at school! If your child is having difficulty transitioning to Prep or you would like support as a parent, please contact Kids At Max on 03 9702 4447.
Written by Kids At Max – Psychologist