It’s back to school next week for kids around the country, some for the first time ever.
Author of the My Big Moments series of personalised books for young children Hannah Davison has written a picture book Ready For School which doubles as a guide for parents to help tamariki prepare for starting school or change schools.
Davison tells Kathryn Ryan parents can put their child in the story and they work with other characters through challenging events.
“They get to approach these scenarios and be a part of it and at the same time learn coping strategies and tools and activities they can use in their own real life situations.”
In the Ready For School book, it’s played out as though the child and character have been at pre-school together and are preparing to go to school for the first time.
“It’s exactly like a rehearsal. The big thing for kids is creating a sense of predictability, that helps them feel safe and secure as they go through changes and they’re not going to be having that stress response.
“When they get to school, they’re going to be in position where they can take in that new information and adapt to the changes that are happening.”
Davison says that parents must remember that children don’t have a lot of control over their worlds, so preparing them with information and foreknowledge is a helpful thing to do.
“Children often feel things are happening to them and often they’re not engaged in the process. So, the purpose of this book is to really engage them in that process of preparation and getting familiar so they feel more empowered in the situation.”
She says that doing things like taking your child to the school their going to go to before their first day, showing them around, and showing them where the toilets will help them feel more in control.
“You’ve got to think about what’s going to be a real concern for that child and one of those things is where the toilet will be, or where they’re going to eat lunch, where will they get dropped off and picked up, who’s going to do that, how’s it going to happen.
“Children are very concerned about the practicalities of their day-to-day and where their support person is going to be, or who that support person is going to be.”