Starting a new school year can be both exciting and also a little bit daunting, with so many new things to get used to. Nord Anglia school, Dover Court Singapore's Primary team shares their top tips for a great school start.
Dave Buckley, Head of Primary, and Russell Moriarty and Nicola Crompton, Deputy Heads of Primary are all new to Dover Court International School this year, but have vast experience of transitions and joining new school communities.
As a new arrival to Singapore and the Dover Court community, new opportunities and experiences can help nurture the excitement that change brings. In life there is always one constant - change - whether it is our children growing older and developing new skills and understandings or perhaps it’s the need for reading glasses for ourselves - life is constantly evolving and changing. Whatever happens, it is how we approach and embrace change and treat it as an ongoing process of transition as we evolve and adapt.
Every year our children transition to a new year group, a new class, and teacher, building new friendships and nurturing existing ones. Having conversations with our children about this is such a valuable and insightful one - encouraging questions so that you can gain a better understanding of what worries and anxieties they may be experiencing - normalising this is essential, and using empathy to help them understand that you may also have these feelings.
Being prepared will help alleviate worries - reading through materials shared by the school - information about orientation days, the school day itself, and learning opportunities that will be offered will all help to excite your child as they return or start at Dover Court. To help underpin this - questions, questions, questions - always ask them - they are at the core of learning - whatever the age. As a parent of two children who are experiencing this transition, I know how important this will be and as we get closer to the start of the new school year, re-adopting routines and rituals before they start school will help them feel relaxed and prepared for an exciting year of learning, Russel Moriarty says.
Whilst change is inevitable, a variety of emotions can still accompany it. It is important, as parents, that we validate (not dismiss) our children’s emotions when faced with transition and change.
Dave Buckley tells us: I experienced this with my youngest daughter, who whilst excited about the prospect of making new friends in her new school, was still feeling upset about not seeing her old school friends. While my immediate temptation was to try and ‘fix’ this by reasoning with my daughter about how other friends were also changing school, going into other classes, etc. I managed to avoid giving in to this urge and instead told her that it was ok to feel a little upset, and this was a natural reaction when we leave one place and move to another. This seemed to reassure her and the conversation swiftly moved on to the things she was excited about in her new school.
This conversation was a timely reminder for me that our children do not always need us to fix a situation, instead, they want us to connect, to help them feel seen, heard, and understood.
Make time to check in with your child, this can be most effective when you are doing something together like taking a walk in nature, or as you travel in a car. Take a non-judgemental stance and create the space for them to share.
Finally, remember that children can be like sponges and will feed off our emotions and actions. If we are anxious or stressed about a change or a move then they will be quick to pick up on this. Apply the ‘oxygen mask principle’ remembering that taking care of our own well-being places us in a better position to support others.
Mr Buckley, Mr Moriarty and Ms Crompton