Transitions are difficult even for adults. The loss of friends is one of the immediate effects faced when transitioning from preschool to primary school or to a new environment. It may also come with a loss of a sense of belonging. At the new school, children will be newcomers and may need to learn the new and different social rules.
How can we ensure a smooth transition for our child who is changing schools or going to a new school?
1. Express feelings
Have a heart to heart conversation with your child and find out how they are feeling about the transition. Acknowledge any emotions that arise, it may not necessarily just be sadness they are experience. Listen with a sympathetic ear and let them know you see and understand their feelings about the unknown future.
It is important for you to show your support and be with your child when they need you. Assure them that you will be there for them whenever they need you to be around. Maintain an optimistic attitude and communicate on the positive aspects of what lies ahead. Be sure to take breaks to relax and play.
2. Impart life skills
Transitions develop critical thinking and help children develop their competency to become reflective learners. Take this opportunity to and use it as a learning platform about life skills, as a stepping stone to prepare them as they grow older. Provide them with opportunities to share about their feelings, thoughts and impression about events happening around them. Children may surprise you with their sensitivity and compassion in approaching different topics.
3. Have positive conversations
As much as possible, focus on the positive aspects of this change and what they can look forward to. Conversations need not necessarily be centred solely about making new friends, but could be positive topics in general, such as exploring a new place and neighbourhood, learning new things, or meeting new teachers and aunties. You can also play up the excitement by allowing your child to plan for tasks that they might want to do that about the transition. This will help them look forward to things that they can be excited about.
4. Maintaining previous friendships
If your child wants to maintain their previous friendships, support them by setting up playdates with friends from their previous school. Invite your child’s friends over during the holidays, or you can encourage them to keep in communication with each other through various modes of communication, such as phone call or even letters. Let your child know that even though they have gone to different schools, the friendship does not necessarily end there.
By Ms Susan Tan, Head of Workplace at Kinderland