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Cam ‘writes’ every day and she thoroughly enjoys it.  Sometimes Cam’s writing is self-directed and other times I provide her with a variety of writing prompts or invitations. But mostly she just likes to spend time in the dedicated space we have set up for her to write. I often write about or share photos [...]

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A School Adventures Kit- A Perfect Starting School Gift

A School Adventures Kit, a perfect gift for school starters. My Little Bookcase

Starting school is a BIG deal, and not just for school starters. If I am to be truly honest, I have to admit that I am finding this new transition far more difficult than Cammy. It’s not being right by her side that has me feeling anxious and a little sad.

I guess I am a bit of a helicopter parent. I have never been far away from Cammy. Always watching, guiding, helping, playing and, I’ll admit, often interfering. Now I can only hope that I have prepared her well as she spends a significant amount of her day without me. I hope that she treats people with acceptance and kindness. I hope that she participates with enthusiasm in all areas of school, eager to try and learn new things.  I hope she shows confidence and common sense in new situations. I hope she handles conflict with respect. I hope that she lets her true colours be seen by those around her. Mostly, I hope she enjoys her time at school.

I really wanted to mark this new transition with a gift- a meaningful gift for Cammy and a gift of reassurance for me.

My children usually receive books for birthdays, milestones and special occasions, but giving a book to Cammy to mark her first day of school didn’t feel right this time. We’ve been reading lots of books about preparing for school. We’ve read about Mothball’s funny school adventures (Wombat Goes to School) and Sunita’s first day (Starting School). We’ve read how Jessica made a new friend (Jessica’s Box) and about the girl who had to help her mother through their First Day. We’ve also read about the girl with The Terrible Suitcase. Cammy didn’t need a story about another child’s experience of school. What she  needs is a story about her own experiences.

Starting School Gift: A School Adventures Kit

A School Adventures Kit for School Starters to mark their first day of school and record their school adventures. My Little Bookcase

I chose to create a School Adventures Kit for Cammy. My hope is that this gift will not only mark her first day of school but also capture her school journey. In the kit are:

  • A suitcase
  • A rag doll
  • A journal (Titled My School Adventures)
  • Two pens (One for Cammy and one for her rag doll)

About the School Adventures Kit

The School Adventures Kit really has a number of purposes.

DOLL:

Starting School Gift, a School Adventures Friend. My Little Bookcase

  • I chose a doll that I thought reflected Cammy; I was drawn to the princess tiara on this dolI. I hope that the doll, which I have named Amity (meaning friendship), will be a confidante for Cammy. Someone she can talk to at night about school once the lights go out; Someone who can give her the chance to formulate her thoughts and ideas before she is ready to talk about them with me.
  • I often find that because school days are so busy children don’t even know what to begin telling their parents when they get home from school. Amity will act as a great catalyst for conversation between Cammy and myself because, until  Cammy can write independently, I will help her record her school adventures.  This helps me to stay in touch with Cammy. (I might even add some emotion stones or cards to the kit at some point to prompt thoughts for Cammy to share with Amity).

JOURNAL:

  • The journal itself has a number of purposes. Its first purpose is simply as a diary to record significant school experiences and events. I’d love Cammy to keep this journal forever and read it as an adult, reflecting fondly on her school journey. (Once we have a Polaroid photo of Cammy in her school uniform, we will add it to the front page.)

A school Adventures Book-helping children record their own school experiences. My Little Bookcase

  • The second aim of the journal is to allow correspondence between Cammy and Amity. Cammy loves fairies and magical beings and I hope to keep that magic alive for as long as possible. I envisage Amity leaving words of encouragement and praise for Cammy on the eve of important school events.The first entry in the journal is a letter from Amity to Cammy.

Letters between school starters and special-friend doll. My Little Bookcase

Did you give a gift to your child on their first day of school?

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About Jackie Small of My Little Bookcase

10 Ideas to Help Ease ‘First Day of School’ Anxiety

10 Ideas to Help Children with First Day of School Anxiety_ My Little Bookcase

Although they are laced with excitement, periods of transition can be such difficult times for children (and adults too) because of the uncertainty that comes with change.  As humans, we find ourselves mulling over the ‘what ifs?’ until they make us feel sick with worry.

Schools today offer wonderful transition programs, but anxiety does still affect some children. If your child is showing signs of anxiety in the lead up to their first day of school, the key is to try and alleviate some of the ‘what if?’ questions.

Talking to your child and trying to decipher the cause of the anxiety is necessary in doing that, but below are 10 strategies to deal with the common causes of anxiety in children in the lead up to their first day of school. The strategies all apply to children of preschool, primary or secondary ages.

1. Read relevant books

Reading books can be a great way to help children understand that they are not alone in the way they feel. Picture books provide children with  characters they can relate to and empathise with, and the story lines often provide constructive coping strategies..

Take a look at some Back to School’ stories that I love and recommend.

2. Visit the school for a walk or play in the school grounds

School can be such an overwhelming space for children, and some worry that they might get lost. Some schools are locked during weekends and holidays, but if you can access the grounds of your child’s school, it is a great opportunity to get accustomed to the grounds. Taking a walk or having a play on the equipment can help it become a place of familiarity and enjoyment for children.

3. Practise walking (or travelling the route) to school

If your child’s school is locked up after hours, you could simply take a trip to the school, to give your child an idea of where the school is in relation to your home and familiarise them with the daily route.

4. Play school

Starting School Role Play_ My Little Bookcase
There are many new routines and procedures for children to learn when they start school. Some children worry that they will not remember them all.  Set up a play school and invite your child to role play the routines and elements associated with school (e.g. daily schedule, listening to a story, sitting at a desk, packing up, snack time, walking to the library etc.)

5. Start your morning routines early

One of the biggest changes for children can be the morning routine, and having to get ready within a limited time frame. Changes in routine can be difficult for children, so you don’t want to bombard them with a new routine on the first day of school. It is best to start the new morning routine a few weeks before school starts. Using prompt cards will not only help children develop some level of independence, but having tasks to complete can also distract them from their worries in the morning.

6. Write to your teacher and classmates

Not knowing anyone or worrying whether they will make friends are common worries for children starting school. Writing a letter, card or drawing a picture for their teacher and classmates can be a great way for anxious children to feel like they are already connecting with their teacher and classmates, even before school has started. Delivering the letters can be a great introduction for nervous or anxious children too, and will make other classmates feel quite special.

Write to new classmates. More ideas at My Little Bookcase for easing school anxiety

7. Organise a play date

Help your child become familiar with their classmates by organising a play date with another child during the school holidays. This is possible if you have been given a list of contact details for your child’s classmates or if your child has connected with a classmate at a school orientation program.

8. Fill a box with important treasures

Preparing a box of special items to take to school can act as an icebreaker for children on the first day. It can also help classmates visually identify shared interests. It is important to read your school’s policy documents though, as some schools do not allow objects to be brought to school.

9. Practise new skills

Some children worry that they won’t be able to complete tasks without their parent’s help, such as tying shoe laces or opening new lunch boxes. While the teacher will be there to help, you can help your child develop confidence by giving them the opportunity to practise these tasks on their own during the holidays.

10. Don’t talk about school too much

While it is great to prepare your child for school, it is also important to get the balance right by not talking about school incessantly. Otherwise school will be the only thing on your child’s mind. Respond to your child’s concerns, ensure they understand the basic procedures of school but also use the holidays to simply play and enjoy time as a family.

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Be sure to join one of our communities for more literacy-based inspiration, or subscribe to our mailing list so you don’t miss out on future posts.

About Jackie Small of My Little Bookcase