Starting School, A Mindful Beginning

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We asked Tom Dutton from Active OOSH to share some advice for children starting school next year. Tom has been working with school age children for 15 years. 

Starting school can bring up a lot of emotions for children and their parents; excitement, fear and anxiety are some of the most common feelings. So how do we, as parents, help our children to feel at ease with the transition to “big school”, and what can we do to help with our own fear and anxiety?

A good starting point is to recognise that when we become parents, the fear or worry steps up a notch, because now we worry not only for ourselves, but also for the wellbeing of our children. So, is it normal that you have some worries about your child taking their first steps into the big gates of school? Yes, it’s completely normal! Is it rational? Well, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, children are far more likely to be presented to hospital for an unintentional injury while at home or at a friend’s house than when they are at school or registered care.

My best advice for fellow parents is to get familiar with the school. Make sure you attend the open days and school visits, volunteer if you can and help out in the classroom. We all fear the unknown, so make the school a familiar place for yourself, as well as your child.  

The hours of a school day can present new challenges for families. Most schools don’t start supervision until after 8:30am and finish around 3pm. Gone are the days of getting to school early and hanging out in the playground before supervision. Schools are enforcing the policy of not allowing children to be at school unsupervised. This is where out of school hours care (OOSH) can be a lifesaver for parents. 

If you’re like me and have a child starting school next year, chances are your memories of OOSH are of a couple of grandmas enforcing craft on a bunch of unhappy kids. I’m pleased to inform you that a lot has changed since we went to school. OOSH follows a curriculum which focuses on the children’s interests (the children guide the program!) Yes, this means lots of mess, lots of fun, lots of slime making (the flavour of the month), sport, adventure, excitement, dancing and noise. It’s a place the children want to go out of school hours (and normally don’t want to leave). 

If your child is starting school next year, OOSH is a great way to help with the transition to school. All of Active OOSH’s services run a Kindy Transition program during January vacation care and for the first term of school. The Kindy children have a dedicated educator and a separate room or space that is just for them. The educator will help the children with things that feel more familiar to preschool, such as toilet reminders, making sure they eat the food in their lunch box, small group activities and rest times. The children who have attended our Kindy program for the last two years have started their first day of school excited and ready to go. 

Another benefit of OOSH is you won’t feel the pressure as a parent to try and finish work or your jobs early, so you can pick the kids up from school at 3pm. For as little as $3.66 an afternoon for after school care, you can spend and extra hour or two at work, get the groceries done (in peace), go for a jog, go to the gym, sit and have a coffee. When you pick the children up from OOSH, you won’t be stressed about the “to-do-list”, and the children will be settled and happy. You are also not leaving things up to chance. 

For as little as $3.66, you are buying peace of mind. Peace of mind that your child is collected from class each day – that a responsible adult is looking out for the wellbeing of your child.

OOSH takes care of a healthy breakfast and afternoon tea at no extra cost (no more breakfast battles!) Many of Active OOSH services now offer after school activities drop off. This means you don’t have to rush away from work to get the kids to soccer training or piano lessons!

From one parent to another, I wish you all the best for your child’s first day of school next year. Remember to breathe and be present, as they will be finished school before we know it.

Tom.

For more information about ActiveOosh, vist our website: www.activeoosh.com.au or phone (02) 6554 8905.

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