Every day is a chance for a new beginning. However, some new beginnings carry more weight, expectation, anticipation and indeed many mixed feelings of excitement, worry, uncertainty, promise and expectation – I’m sure you could add to the list. The beginning of the school is a time of excitement for many but uncertainty for others, and not only for the children.
For many adults, the prospect of their child commencing formal education can trigger many feelings. It might raise memories of their own schooling which might not have been positive, or it might be that their child has never been left before in the care of another. Some people find beginnings, transitions and starts of year more challenging than others. But for other parents, they have high expectations as they are excited for their child to have an opportunity they did not have. Others are just relieved that children can return to some semblance of routine and that schools and Early Learning services are committed to staying open this year. Whatever you may feel, a new school year is a marker of a period of their child’s development and growth: ‘my baby is growing up’.
At the beginning of a child’s school journey, children can experience a range of emotions, and as we know, children are very sensitive to the emotions of the adults around them: if Mum and Dad and Grandma and the other important people in their lives are positive about the start of school, the children are more likely to pick up on this – even if there’s an initial hiccup at the goodbye.
Even moving from one class to another in the same learning environment can be emotional and challenging for many children, as they may experience uncertainty about the rules, new expectations and trying to remember the names of all the other children.
Often the anticipation is a range of mixed feelings and, once the day arrives, the uncertainty is put to rest. Having the opportunity to talk about feelings, acknowledge them, normalise them, name them and, for some, to either draw or write about their feelings can be helpful. Being able to reflect on the experience is also important, helping to put into perspective the anticipation or uncertainty.
But of course, others seem to easily slide into the new day and new year seamlessly, a reminder that we are all different and manage change in different ways.
The year has got off to a great start and my thanks to the parents for your support of your child and the educators for your positive outlook and the warm welcoming of the children commencing in 2022.
Director of ELC Kew
Feature image: Sam starting Year 1 and his little brother Finn starting in Music Room, sharing their new beginnings