Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Day 2301 - Preparing for a new school

Have you got kids heading off to a new school?



Both of my kids started new schools yesterday.

One started high school and the other started college (which is a fancy word Canberrans use for years 11 and 12).

Two kids. Two new schools.  Two big changes.  Two new methods of operation. Two sets of nerves. Two bundles of excitement.

Two milestone moments.




The approach to getting them ready for their new schools was gradual and a process that evolved over six months.

It wasn't too dissimilar to getting them ready for school for the very first time.  Although this time they've got maturity and experience on their side.  As do I!

Here's how we prepared our kids for their new adventures:


SEE

Both kids had the opportunity to see their new schools many times over the last 6 months.  A combination of school organised tours, information nights and our own family drive-bys and walk-throughs.

Just being able to see where they're going and start to absorb some of the changes early on.

Being aware of how the school is set up, what resources are available to them, what the classrooms look like, where they'll eat lunch, what their locker might look like, where they walk in, where I'll pick them up, where the buses stop.

The ability to then visualise in the lead up to the first day to help prepare mentally for a new campus and a new method of operation.

MEET

In addition to the normal meet and greet sessions offered at their new schools I also organised one-on-one meetings with their mentor teachers to chat about the kids individual needs.  I included the kids in these meetings.

This gave them the opportunity to connect with their teachers before school started and feel visible, rather than just a face in the crowd.

It also gave us the opportunity to chat about any special needs our kids might have and feel confident that the schools we had chosen were the best for our kids.

TALK

One thing I didn't want to do was get the kids nervous about their new schools.  I didn't want to turn it into a big thing if they were already feeling pretty cruisey about it. So there were no big family meetings or lectures.

Instead we just raised it casually from time to time with questions like "how are you feeling about the end of school holidays?",  "is there anything you'd like us to do to help you get ready for school?".

The big thing for my kids was the ability to be able to ask questions.  Especially for my son.

"How does the lock work on my locker?"

"How much time will I have to get from one class to the next?"

"What if I get lost?"

"Do I carry all my books or can I go to the locker in between classes?"

We may not have known the answers, but it gave us the opportunity to talk about our own experiences and discuss the "maybes" and help him to think through the solutions in his own mind.

Just by being available and attentive and actually listening helps them to get their head around the changes that are about to take place.

DO

Of course a major part of getting ready for any school year is in the doing.

Buying the uniforms, getting their school bag, organising hair cuts, buying new school shoes, getting the stationery organised, cleaning up their rooms, organising their desks at home and simply doing the things that need to be done.

The trick to keeping it stress free, is getting this stuff done early and without a sense of rush and urgency attached to it.

We turned our stationery and uniform shopping into an outing a week and a half before school was due back.  No rushing.  Just a fun day out.  

We also turned our hair cuts into a date.  Whether we like it or not, first impressions count for a lot so having the kids feel good about themselves is essential for their first day of school.

By cleaning up their rooms and getting rid of a bunch of stuff like old shoes, clothes, toys and knick knacks we've provided "space" which not only declutters the physical but also helps clear the mind for a fresh start.

Cleaning their desks and making space in their desk drawers also helps get them ready for a new set of subjects and a whole new method of study.

Buying them diaries and sitting down together as a family to jot down key events and regular activities, as well as mapping out the next set of school holidays, help them to feel organised and hopeful that school is not the only thing in their lives.  They may be students, but they are also so much more than that.  School is simply one part of who they are, not the sum total.


CELEBRATE

Celebration is a big part of who we are as a family.  I'm not talking about popping champagne corks every time someone learns to tie their shoes or whenever a load of washing gets done (although, there may be some merit in that).  I'm just talking about recognising our achievements no matter how big or small.

So celebration was a big part of the lead up to starting school.

We went out to lunch on Sunday to acknowledge their old schools, recognise the end of the school holidays and celebrate the fresh start of a new school and a new school year.  It was a way to say cheers to the end and cheers to the beginning.

Every day will continue to be a celebration as we talk about the day we had and prepare for the day ahead.




As I sit here typing my kids are starting to wake up to get ready for day two of their new school adventures.

Each day will be a combination of SEE, MEET, TALK, DO and CELEBRATE as they move forward and continue to grow.

I'm excited about what this year holds for them.

The best news is, they're excited too!

How was the start of your school year?

Have you got kids starting new schools?

Do you remember your first day of high school?

How do you get your crew ready for their new beginnings?


11 comments :

  1. I had a new high schooler this year and even the older kids get nervous. In fact they probably get more nervous because they know what to expect. He caught the bus on his own yesterday and told me all about it after school. Very proud mum.

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  2. That's awesome, Leanne. I hope they have both had a great start to the new school year. I love that your preparation takes up to six months. I like to do a similar thing with my girls. This year it was for my five year old starting prep and my three year old starting in a new room at daycare.

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  3. We did a few bus practices in the holidays - and so far, all good. Big step starting a new school.

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  4. No "new" schools hair but still, they were nervous! Glad to see they settled quickly though :)

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  5. I hope they both have a great start at school. New schools can be daunting, but it sounds like they've got it all under control. We started school last week and I agree that driving past the school helped Esther with the anticipation of going to prep.

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  6. I hope all goes well with your kids at their respective new schools. I had my youngest starting high school at a new school this year and my twins starting year 11 also!

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  7. Great approach. I like that you organise extra meetings with the mentors. Good luck to your (not-so-)young'uns this year. #teamIBOT

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  8. I went to so many new schools - 6 in 12 years! I don't think I got prepared, I just went haha.

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  9. Congrats on two huge milestones in your family - I especially love how you included "celebrate" - it is something we often forget to do - whether it be starting school or any new milestone or challenge we achieve in life. So important to include as part of the process xx

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  10. Exciting times! It sounds like you're all well prepared for the big changes. Hope it all goes well, I'm sure it will.

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  11. I remember starting highschool and being a mixture of nervous and excited. I went to a small school though so that definitely helped. It sounds like you have all of the bases covered, and I hope the kids enjoy their first day!

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