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, 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.
- It may be helpful to view starting the school year, whether you are new or returning family, as a transition, rather than an event. The focus is often on the first day but the process of settling in, feeling confident and comfortable with new friends and adults takes time.
- You're not expected to know everything on day, or even week one! We're here to help so ask as many questions as you need and encourage your child to do the same.
- Re-establishing home routines for bedtime after the long break will help your child get physically and mentally prepared for their first day back in school.
- Tell your child about your first day in school. How did you feel? Who was your friend? What was the name of your teacher?
- Discuss with your child all the other ‘firsts' they have experienced and reassure them that they will be able to cope as they did with the other ‘firsts’
Mr Buckley, Mr Moriarty and Ms Crompton