This time of year is always very hectic – for parents and Enjoy-a-Ball coaches as we are all getting ready and organised (trying to!) for the start of the 2015/16 school year. For parents of children starting school this can be a slightly more stressful phase as you have to try and negotiate a new and exciting time in your child’s life. With years of experience of helping with a smooth transition of Enjoy-a-Ballers into school here is a word of advice from our coaches:
The saying goes that the first day at primary school is more traumatic for the parent than it is for the child. However, a new study from Bath University suggests that this is far from true.
Researchers have found that children have high levels of the stress hormone cortisol up to six months before their first day at primary school, rising significantly when school begins and not dropping for up to six months after their first day. The first day of school is a big step for parent and the child, who is still very young, and has moved into a challenging new environment which is (rightly) stretching them physically, socially, academically and emotionally. But there are plenty of ways that parents can help lower the cortisol levels all round. Here, some experts offer their advice.
The prospect of “letting go” can be gut-wrenching. To compensate, many parents often bang on about “big school” (as opposed to nursery) and “being big now”. “But the child has no sense of how to be ‘big’, so this can make them feel very uncertain,” says author and parenting expert Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer. Instead, talk about starting school being a “big step”. “Reassure them that although there is some change of routine, they’ll still be the same person”
Give your child lots of love and support and be excited and enthusiastic about him/her starting school.
“Don’t gloss over the change,” says educational psychologist Karen Cullen, “but try to acknowledge it in a positive way, as something exciting.” A child needs to feel their parent is fine about the change. “The confidence of a parent will be reflected in the child,” says Cullen.
Books can also be helpful. Hartley-Brewer recommends Lucy and Tom Go to School by Shirley Hughes and I Won’t Go There Again by Susan Hill.
“Children will be tired at the end of the school day to begin with and need time to get used to it. That being said children adjust quickly and it won’t be long before they have improved stamina. Parents can help by getting their children to bed a little earlier than normal over the first few weeks of the new term” states Warwick Dredge, leading children’s developmental and sports coaching expert. Warwick goes on to say. “An important element to a smooth school transition is to maintain as much of the old routines as possible. That includes play days, as well as continuing with sports clubs and classes. Some familiarity makes the adjustment to the new a lot easier.”
Enjoy-a-Ball has been coaching children since 1990 and we have seen many thousands of children (currently we coach over 5500 children weekly) go through the starting school process. In our experience, wise parents have continued with their child’s weekly Enjoy-a-Ball session and many reported that it was a great decision and had helped in settling their children into the first year of school. Parents like you reported that the advantages of continuing with their child’s classes far outweighed the tiredness their children experienced in the first few weeks.
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