03 Sep

Times of Change

From the Head of Early Years – Sarah Noell

For the past 6 weeks I’ve been vividly reminded of how challenging it can be to try something new. Beginning my role as Head of the Early Years this term in a new school with new faces, places and processes has posed some feelings of uneasiness as I learn the ropes!

As an adult I know it’s okay to feel nervous, I know how to manage my feelings and organise my thinking to focus on the positives. I know it won’t take long to feel comfortable again. However for many young children, times of change can cause great angst and distress.

It’s important for us to be prepared to guide and support children through new experiences. As many of our children and parents begin to look towards moving into new classrooms in 2019 with new faces, places and processes it’s a timely topic to discuss.

We face changes daily

Children actually face changes daily. Perhaps they have something new in their lunch box, a familiar friend is away from school or there’s a relief teacher in for the day. Perhaps they have to buy new sneakers or the weather has changed their plans.

It’s important to recognise and verbalise when children face change and how they coped with it. Sometimes children may not even be aware that they have used strategies successfully to manage a change!

Taking risks and trying new things helps us to grow and learn

At SPW we know in order to grow and learn we must take risks and try new things. We believe children learn important life skills through new experiences such as building resilience and persistence.

Some of the strategies we use to support children through their school days are listed below and can be applied to any circumstance and have certainly helped me over the past 6 weeks!

  1. Listening and talking. Say what you see; “It looks like you feel sad.” Help children to identify their worries.
  2. Offer comfort and reassurance.
  3. Remind children of a time when they’ve succeeded in the past. “Remember when you started swimming lessons and felt really nervous but now you feel okay.”
  4. Find strategies that help to calm children and do them together eg; 5 slow deep breaths.
  5. Prepare children for known changes and discuss what it may look like, feel like and sound like.
  6. Be positive. Role model helpful thinking.
  7. Sometimes drawing and writing a little social story around the change can be helpful and revisited over and over again.

Beginning the transition process

During Week 8 many of our current 4 year olds will begin their transition into Reception. We’ll be using many of the above strategies to support all the children. Please keep in communication with your child’s teacher or myself if you have particular concerns for your child during this exciting new adventure.

The most reassuring behaviour that can never be underestimated is the power of a smile. Smiling signals friendliness and encourages positive interactions. Remember to encourage your child to give and receive smiles.

Thank you for your smiles, hellos and warm welcomes. I feel very lucky to be a part of the SPW community and look forward to becoming familiar with all things SPW in the near future!

Thanks to Sarah Noell, Head of the Early Years at SPW, for this article.