Starting Big School!

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It doesn’t seem all that long ago that you were taking your tiny newborn baby home from hospital and now all of a sudden they are starting big school! Where did that time go and how can it be possible? It can be a nervous time for parents and children but with a little planning ahead to make sure your child is emotionally and spiritually ready, it can be a lot easier.

Don’t worry if they don’t know their whole alphabet, all their numbers, or three different languages – that’s what they are going to school for! If they have been to pre-school they probably already know more than enough academic stuff to begin kindergarten anyway.  Remember what I said in ‘The importance of building confidence’  – Self-esteem has a far greater impact than intelligence or ability!  This is Paramount, so give them the confidence they need to begin with some of these simple effective tips:

Toileting

It is really important to make sure that your child is confident about going to the toilet on their own.  They will need to know how to: undo and do up their pants and other clothing, get onto the toilet by themselves, wipe their bottoms correctly, turn taps on and off, and wash and dry hands. Your child may already be doing all of this on their own but if not, make sure they begin now as you won’t be around at school and they need to be able to do this without you.

Dressing and Undressing

There will be times when your children will need to change for swimming, sport or even just the weather e.g putting a jumper/cardigan on and off. Let them dress themselves every morning and undress at night (if they don’t already) so that they can get the hang of it and feel completely secure by the time they start school.

Drinks and Lunches

Some children may have been making their own lunches since the age of about two and a half but if they haven’t don’t panic. Children of five years of age are quite capable of making a sandwich and putting some fruit, yoghurt or whatever your child has for lunch into a lunch box. But even before they can do all of this, it is essential that your child is able to easily open and close the lunch box, plastic/foil wrappers, drink bottles, poppers, yoghurt containers, and eat fruit/vegetables without it having to be peeled or chopped. Also make sure that you or your child check that there is a spoon for the yoghurt or fork for rice etc so that your child does not panic when they get to lunch and there are things missing.  All of this helps them to feel secure and less anxious about meal times at school.

General hygiene and Self help

Anything you can teach your child to do for themselves will make them feel more secure.  Things that we take for granted like being able to: blow their own nose and wash their hands afterwards, wash hands before lunch or after outdoor or messy activities, hang their coat on a hook, put on and take off their own shoes, pack and unpack their bags etc, will all help them to feel more confident.

Manners and Communication

Saying please and thank you was once taught in each and every home but these days some adults have forgotten about basic courtesy and manners, so therefore they do not teach their children any.  It’s really important that your child learns some basic manners and communication skills.  This will help them in all aspects of life but particularly with meeting new people.  Firstly practice good manners yourself by saying please and thank you and also by sharing, caring and turn taking etc, and then help your child learn these skills.  Go through some scenarios of asking other children to play or if you can borrow something from another child etc, and role play what they could say. Be an open communicator yourself and ask your child how they feel about starting a new school. Do they have any concerns or is there anything they are unsure of? What are they really looking forward to about their new school? Then answer their questions as honestly and reassuringly as you can. This will help them to communicate with others and communicate their feelings.

Planning and Organisation

Teach them about planning and organising so that they are able to unpack and pack their bags and  organise what they will need for the next day. Talk to them about the general sequence of the day and again ask them if they have any concerns or anything they would like to find out more about? Then answer all their questions. Read my previous post: 2013 – Your Child’s Next Exciting Chapter! For more information on how you can help your child plan and get organised.

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Some other ways to help your child feel more secure and excited about starting big school:

  • Let them make simple choices and be in control of the things that they can be in control of such as picking a new lunch box, drink bottle, pencil case, pencils etc and get them to tick these off a list. Then let them set out the things they will need for the first day. This will help them feel more enthusiastic and that they have some control. 

  • Visit the school and point out the swings or new classrooms etc to help children feel more familiar with the new environment. 

  • Start going to bed a bit earlier about a week or two before school begins. Wake your child up around 10 minutes earlier than usual and let them go to bed 10 minutes earlier each night until you have the timing right for school term.

  • Find out about drop off and pick up so that you know how long you can stay the first day or if it is recommended that you leave quite quickly.  Make sure you plan ahead how you will say goodbye and talk to your child about this.  Will you give a quick kiss and hug and say goodbye or will you stay and wait a while until your child feels settled? Think about what your child needs. This way your child will also know what is going to happen that first day and not feel as nervous.

  • If you can meet some of the other children before school starts, you might like to organise a meet and greet play time. But if not, it doesn’t matter as they will meet new friends soon enough once school starts.

  • Read some good books about starting school such as: I Am Too Absolutely Small For School by Lauren Child; First Grade Jitters by Robert Quackenbush; Sam and Gram and the First day of School by Dianne Blomberg;  or When you go to Kindergarten by James Howe.

Remember, school is supposed to be fun! Yes you are supposed to go there and learn but most of us who have been there and beyond realise that most of your learning actually happens after you leave school, so don’t take it all too seriously. If your child is happy, meets some friends and learns how to read, write and do a little maths then that’s all that really matters – They have a lifetime to learn the rest! Read all my previous posts to find out more about how you can positively guide your child throughout their school lives and beyond, plus stay tuned for more information on how you can do this.

Happy Guiding

from 

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Developing Your Child’s Confidence

Alvin-Price-about-Childrens-Self-Esteem[1]

With support and effective teaching and parenting techniques, a child’s spirit, confidence and self-esteem can be nurtured and developed. This is a huge topic and one that cannot be covered in one blog, but this is a fantastic place to start! The first and most important way to do this is to always begin from a place of love and respect. This means making all your choices – especially as a parent – based on love. Another basic way to do this is when you are introducing new tasks/experiences to the child or class. Give children the skills they need to learn the new task/experience that they are endeavouring at and then scaffold their development until they have mastered it.  Sounds too simple? Well it can be, just keep working at it. My aim is to develop confidence in all children so that they have the inner belief  that they can achieve all that their heart desires.  It’s all about having the tools to reach your fullest potential!

Make all decisions based on respect and love for the child!

This is the absolute most important point I will ever make about guiding children and nurturing their spirit. When making any decision at all relating to a child, think to yourself – am I making the decision based on love, respect and the child’s needs or out of my own needs and the quest for control?   If you make all your decisions with this in mind you can never truly go wrong. Loving and respecting the child means listening carefully to what it is that they want and never using your power as a bigger and older person to control the child in any way. I will make this point clear – never ever aggressively scream at, bully or belittle a child! They have just as much right to be respected (in my opinion – even more so!) than any adult. Would you disrespect an adult in this way? If your answer is yes, then you have a lot to learn and probably need far more help than I can offer. If it is no, then why would you do it to a child? Make this the day that you stop! Calm loving behaviour is far more effective than being aggressive.  All aggression does is result in tension, anxiety and anger and has no place whatsoever in guiding and nurturing a child! It is also one of the quickest and most effective ways to break your child’s confidence and self-esteem – Don’t do it!

Failure is not a bad thing, it’s another opportunity to learn!

It is so important for children not to see failure as a bad thing but as another opportunity to learn. Many psychologists agree that the risk of failure may hold children back from learning new skills.   By not attempting new tasks a child’s developmental growth can be stunted. Never let children’s failure reflect on their self-image or self-worth.  Failure is a means to an end – learning and eventually succeeding.  (stay tuned for my upcoming blog – Famous Failures)

Help them achieve their goals!

Find out what your child’s needs and interests are. What would they like to learn about or be able to do? – then help them achieve their goal.  Children usually achieve far more when adults provide them with clear instruction, ample time to practice, give positive prompts and feedback and allow that child to practice a skill until its achieved. If a child does make a mistake the worst thing an adult can do is tell them that they are wrong, instead show them the correct way without being condescending and  domineering.

Praise and Encourage!

Praise and encouragement is imperative in developing confidence. Encouragement helps children know that they are good enough as they are. Some experts say that praise and encouragement should be used sparingly in order for children to acquire intrinsic self worth and motivation but I totally disagree. Praise and encourage that child as much as it needs you to – better to encourage too much than not enough!

Here is a practical example:

Your three year old child says; “Can you please show me how to make a sandwich?” You get out the butter, bread, butter knife, Vegemite and place two slices of bread on a plate.  Begin by demonstrating how to place your knife into the butter and carefully spread it on the bread. You then give your child a turn. The first time you could say “Lets do this together,” and let them hold the knife and spread the butter while you hold the top of the knife and guide their hand. Then let them have a turn on their own. If you see that they are having trouble and putting big chunks of butter in one area on the bread, you don’t say “That isn’t right let me do it for you.” Instead you would say “Great job, can I just show you how to scrape the butter off this side and put a bit more on the other side?” or something similar which is still positive and gives the child the opportunity to say yes or no.  If the child would like you to repeat the task then you can show them again, if not there will be other opportunities and that child has been given the confidence to try again. Follow the same procedure with spreading the vegemite and cutting the sandwich in half. 

More Practical examples to come : )

Where to next?

Each day or as necessary, repeat the same strategies.  If the child would like to try a new task – encourage them. Then go through each stage together e.g. demonstrating, describing, listening to their concerns, encouraging, praising, reinforcing, scaffolding. Scaffolding is based on the work of Vygotsky – a well known psychologist – and is a process where an adult or more competent peer provides support and assistance to a less competent child.  They adjust the amount and level of support (according to need) as the child progresses. This helps the less competent child become more competent and ultimately they’re able to carry out and complete the tasks independently.  I use this method often in my work with children and what I find is that as they progress, their confidence shows a huge increase from not having the confidence to independently attempt challenging tasks at all; to being able to show a younger child how to do these tasks.  

Nurture and value the child as an individual!

By following the child’s needs and interests with love and respect and by giving them the tools they need to achieve independence, adults can aid the development of confidence.  In addition, they do this by loving, respecting, nurturing and valuing the child as an individual, this validation leads to better self-esteem.  With the confidence to try new things, children believe that they can achieve anything and this gives them hope.  Hope is usually a normal part of development but it can be stunted or allowed to flourish depending on what is going on around the child. Therefore, always provide positive opportunities to help a child develop new skills and encourage and praise them often in order to keep building their confidence and self-esteem!

Happy guiding,

Darling Precious Children

P.S

Checkout my recent blogs: The Importance of Building Confidence and Darling Precious Roly Poly Christmas Tree.  And stay tuned for more great Christmas ideas +  upcoming blogs about Famous Failures AND Getting your child ready for big school!

The Importance of Building Confidence

Most people know that having confidence is a valuable asset to have in life but do you realise just how much of your life it actually affects? It has been proven by many theorists, psychologists, teachers and specialists that confidence – or lack of – affects almost every part of your life.  This is especially true when it comes to children.  A child’s ability to attempt tasks that challenge them relies heavily on their level of confidence. Children who are lacking in confidence generally have a lower self concept and self-esteem.  This leads to feelings of inadequacy and not believing that they can achieve their goals, therefore they give up on having any.  But even worse still –  there is  evidence to suggest that this could possibly lead to stress, depression and anxiety.

Self-esteem has far greater impact than intelligence or ability!

According to Apter, a social psychologist; children’s successful development depends on their self-esteem.  She adds that this has a far greater impact than intelligence or ability. Children, who are confident, believe that they have value.  They also have higher expectations, persist longer in tasks, and in general display more advanced skills than equally able but less confident children.  A child with little confidence can appear to be behind in their development but with assistance and encouragement this lack of self confidence can be overcome and their level of competence in most tasks increases. 

Fear of trying new things, making choices and failure!

With the development of self confidence comes the development of high self-esteem.  Psychologist Coopersmith, who has extensively researched self-esteem, says that people with low self-esteem are afraid of trying anything new; are unable to make decisions and are sure they will fail.  This is clearly evident in Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development. Erikson’s Initiative versus guilt (3 to 6) stage relates to the way a child develops initiative when trying out new things and is not overwhelmed by failure.  If children are not given the opportunity to develop initiative then they develop guilt which leads to feelings of inadequacy. 

The links to anxiety, depression and stress!

Children who are afraid to try anything new in case they fail may become adults who will not attempt new challenges for fear of failure.  Life without challenges can become mundane and gloomy which (along with other contributing factors) may lead to developing anxiety and depression.  Consequently, stress can also become a result of low self confidence.   Stress is the body’s reaction to fears, assumptions, and worries that we summons into our minds.  The more we stress, the more insecure we become about our own coping abilities, and the result is lower self esteem.

Confidence: the key to reaching your full potential!

If we are to have the best chance of developing good emotional well being, all human beings need the opportunity to increase their level of confidence.  In doing so, the onset of some emotional disorders such as stress, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, etc may be reduced.  Confidence is also essential to living our best lives possible and reaching our fullest potential! How can we aim for anything if we have no belief in ourselves that we can achieve all that we desire?  Confidence gives you the power to hope! Therefore, it is imperative to nurture and develop confidence in all children and facilitate a desire for new challenges.

Happy guiding,

Darling Precious Children

P.S

Checkout my previous blog: Stop Comparing Children! And stay tuned for my next blog: Developing Your Child’s Confidence,  for more insights into positive child guidance!

Stop Comparing Children!

Stop Comparing

Why is it such a far fetched idea that we could possibly be happy just being ourselves? Why do people have to constantly compare every physical, mental, social, emotional aspect of ourselves and our lives to each other? And why do we place such importance on what the media consider to be normal? Who cares! Stop comparing! We are not each other, we are unique amazing individuals and we shouldn’t even be trying to be like someone else’s so called “normal.” Being the best version of ourselves should be our ultimate goal not being “normal” – there is no such thing!

Don’t judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree!

I saw a great quote recently by Einstein – a truly wise and intelligent individual – and it said “Everyone is a genius but if we judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s life thinking that it is stupid.” So true! Break the cycle and don’t put your children through such an unrealistic, hopeless and negative endeavour. You should want them to be themselves, they are precious and special they are not everyone else and they should not be expected to be. Outdated school systems with their harmful and unnecessary grading method only serve to perpetuate this myth that we are all supposed to achieve the same things at the same time and if we don’t we are a failure. How does a ‘d’ grade say anything to a child other than you are not good enough, you didn’t keep up with the crowd? They are not sheep, they are children. When we persist in grading a child against all others in their class, we are telling that child that their worth is measured only in terms of how successful they are in comparison to their peers. Instead we should be doing all we can to develop each child’s confidence not annihilate it! They all have their own brilliant unique talents – nurture this!

Give them a break!

Children are not only being compared to each other at school either – some parents do it too! The ones that are meant to be building them up are knocking them down. For some bizarre and totally insane reason that I do not understand, people are comparing when their children first sat up, crawled, walked, talked, potty trained, counted, read and so on and so on. All it does is keep this cycle of comparison going and going. I’ll let you in on a little secret – Children do not all develop the same skills at the same age – Give them a break! All this talk just instils fear and an inferiority complex in yourself, it is unproductive and totally unnecessary. It places way too much pressure on your child and sets you and your child up for a lifetime of failure because you will always be trying to live up to others expectations.

Your Child is Unique!

So why start with this topic? If we are going to talk about nurturing your child’s unique amazing spirit then we have to get rid of all those perceptions that your child should be anything other than themselves. To do this you may have to look introspectively at yourself and let go of all you have learnt before now. Welcome to Darling Precious Children!