As the school year draws to a close next month, anxiety about the following year can start to kick in for some children and parents. Which teacher? Who’s class? Which friends? The uncertainty and fear of the unknown can be overwhelming and therefore the school holidays over Christmas can be quite uncomfortable for some. Some might say that it is ‘tough luck’; this is just a part of life and kids need to learn to adapt to change. Whilst this is correct in some respects, children (especially those with additional needs such as anxiety disorders and Autism) still need support through this time and guidance in managing their feelings.
From a schooling perspective, children should be given the opportunity to visit the area of the school they will be in, become familiar with the staff on that grade and be kept with at least one friend moving forward. This is obviously in an ideal world and it is noted that whilst these practises are attempted at most schools to some degree, it is not guaranteed and changes may occur. Due to the unpredictable nature of staffing, especially in schools with fluctuation of numbers, last minute change can be unavoidable. It is for this reason that parental support around change is paramount.
As parents, you can have discussions around feelings and different scenarios. Validate your child’s feelings but be mindful that you do not create more anxiety; be guided by your child’s responses and assure them that whatever happens, the school and you care about them being safe and happy at school and you will work together to ensure that they feel that way. If your child exhibits strong feelings of worry it could also be beneficial to chat to the School Counsellor or Stage Coordinator/Assistant Principal about your child’s transition.
Sara Drebber is an educational consultant, teacher, writer and mother of three.