24 January 2018
With the end of the school holidays in sight, children and their parents are now starting to look forward to the new school year.
For many of the younger children, it is the start of a new adventure: making new friends, sharing, taking turns and settling into a new routine; for others they will be transitioning from being the oldest students surrounded by friends at their primary school to being the youngest at a new high school, where they mightn’t have the support of their friends.
Transitions into school are often tricky and therefore careful preparation goes a long way to easing any anxiety children might feel.
Editas, one of the psychologists who provides counselling support through OzChild’s Shine Assist program, recommends that parents and carers discuss with their children what they might expect in terms of structure of their first day at school
“It is helpful to discuss the layout of the school grounds, who to ask for help when needed, how to form new friendships and how to maintain them,” she said.
“Children together with parents can draw pictures of their expectations of their new school, role play various situations and discuss what some of their worries might be. It is important to teach children problem solving skills as these are one of the pivotal skills required for successful transition.
“If a student is experiencing difficulties such as bullying, depression, attention deficit disorder or bereavement at school it could impact on their lives,” Editas said.
“It is important we find ways to assist them so their experiences at school don’t impact on their lives while at school or in the future when they are out in the workforce.”
OzChild’s Shine Assist program connects families and schools with medical practitioners who are able to help address the mental and emotional well-being of the student in both primary and high schools. It is currently running in 35 schools across Victoria at no cost to either the school or parents.
The program involves counselling for older children and play sessions for the young children in the child’s school. Counselling can be either one-to-one or as a group. During the one-to-one session the child might participate in art therapy, play therapy, clay therapy or even a walk around the school yard, while the group sessions can include yoga, martial arts and drama.