First Days

#contentology

#Firstdays

First days. The first day I’m thinking about is that we have just had the
first day of the last day of the month, for the last month of 2020!
And for December it means excitement climbing for all things Christmas,
putting the Christmas tree put up over the weekend, Elf returning to cause some mischief and delight for the month of December.
But there are some other first days happening on the horizon, that might
be filled with more anxiety than excitement and the first that comes to
mind are those transition days for practicing being in a new grade or at
new school. With transitions coming up in coming weeks, I know that
this is on many students and parents minds.
These first days are filled with lots of unknowns and for lots of my clients
and their families, there can be anxiety about a range of things
including: do the teachers and support staff have enough knowledge of
their child to support their child, will there be enough opportunity to get
settled during the brief transitions, will their child have a good
experience, what will they do if they don’t have a good transition day,
how can we make further transitions days more likely, which could
hopefully lead to a good start to the new school year in 2021.
Having COVID-19 restrictions still in place across schools has certainly
not made this preparation and transition easier, with the number of
transition days having been reduced for most schools. But in the spirit
of controlling what we can, and leaving the rest to the universe, there is
a few things you can check to see whether these things would help
make upcoming ‘first days’ positive ones:

  • if you are anxious about your child having a good experience with
    their upcoming first day, don’t share that with them directly or in front of
    them. Be supportive and confident in front of them that this first can be
    a positive experience (vent to others who get your nervousness and
    concern away from the ears of children!) and that all children feel
    nervous about new things, first days and that they have experienced
    these before and things do get easier gradually.
  • ask your school about extra transitions across the summer school
    holiday break-inquire when the school will be open to staff and if it’s
    possible for extra visits to happen in the weeks prior to students being
    back at school. Even if the school is empty it can be helpful to see the
    school environment and get familiar with it before students are there.
    This is one less thing for them to process. * Ask if when the child visits the school can photos or video be taken of
    the environment so that these can be reviewed later on. Having visuals
    to share and talk about, can be helpful.
  • Can the upcoming class teacher/s have a photos of them and or their
    classroom forwarded to parents via email-again having visuals to help
    learn the identify of staff and their role at the school can be very helpful.
    This is especially helpful for students transitioning to high school where
    they go from a classroom teacher to 7 or 8 new staff members to get to
    know.
  • See if you can get a map of the school and identify safe and calm
    spaces that the child can spend time in. Having this map also makes it
    easier to ask about their day and help them plan where to go when they
    need to for certain classes or during breaks.
  • Create a Social Story (TM) with the words and photos that the child/
    young person can read/reread in the months coming as you get closer
    to the official first day (of school).
  • Also if you’ve not already, visit the Positive Partnerships website for a
    look at their checklists and templates and any training you think would
    be useful as this website is all about supporting families and schools to
    understand how to support kids on the Spectrum
    http://www.positivepartnerships.com.au
    I hope that these upcoming tips are helpful for school firsts coming your
    way.
    Kate x

Published by Kate French

Clinical Psychologist; expertise in autism and child and family psychology.

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