Tips for an easy tran­si­tion from school to hol­i­days

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Deb hop­per

The end of the school year brings much ex­cite­ment for chil­dren and fam­i­lies. The an­tic­i­pa­tion of Christmas, hol­i­days, go­ing away and see­ing fam­ily and friends can be very ex­cit­ing. As well as look­ing for­wards to the hol­i­days, there are many cel­e­bra­tion events at school in­clud­ing school plays, school con­certs, end of term movies and ex­cur­sions as re­wards for chil­dren. Even though this can be ex­cit­ing, it can be very un­set­tling for many chil­dren. Home and school rou­tines are of­ten dis­rupted as chil­dren go to con­cert or school play prac­tices or away from the school for ex­cur­sions. At home and on week­ends there are the end of year Christmas par­ties for sport­ing or church groups, Nip­pers BBQs or street Christmas par­ties. Again, these are all fun, but it pulls chil­dren out of rou­tine which can be un­set­tling. In ad­di­tion, the so­cial and sen­sory de­mands of these so­cial events can be ex­tremely chal­leng­ing to chil­dren.

Five Top Tips for help­ing sup­port chil­dren and mak­ing them feel safe in the tran­si­tions be­tween school and the sum­mer hol­i­days.

1. Cre­ate a cal­en­dar for be­fore and dur­ing the hol­i­days. Kids love to see things vis­ually and by help­ing them cre­ate a cal­en­dar of what’s com­ing up, they see more con­cretely what plans are for them and the fam­ily and this makes them feel more set­tled.

You can find some great down­load­able re­sources here which will help get you started. On our free down­load­able, you can see that the weeks are colour coded. You can edit and change to suit your fam­ily. The pink weeks are for the 2 weeks prior to hol­i­days. The white weeks are school hol­i­days and the yel­low weeks are the first two weeks back at school.

Use clip art or pic­tures (es­pe­cially for younger chil­dren), or just write the main ac­tiv­i­ties for each day or af­ter school. e.g. add in play dates, hol­i­day care days, nights away etc. We have some ex­am­ples at the above link.

2. When go­ing to an event tell your child in ad­vance (or show them on your cal­en­dar as above) and tell them as much as you know about the event. How many peo­ple will be there? Who will be there that you know? Will they know any of the chil­dren or adults? If there aren’t many chil­dren there, what ac­tiv­i­ties will your child be able to do? Should you plan to take a small pack of Lego, colour­ing in or their favourite small toy?

3. If your child gets eas­ily over­whelmed and finds it dif­fi­cult to cope in busy and loud sit­u­a­tions (as par­ties or BBQ’s can be) talk to them about how they will be able to tell you if they aren’t cop­ing well or if they need some ‘away’ time. This could be a code word

(e.g. code yel­low or code red), or a hand sig­nal. En­cour­age them to come and let you know some­how if they need help or need to leave the event.

4. When you ar­rive at an event, chat to the host and ask if there’s a quiet area that your child can go and ‘hang out’ if they need some re­treat space. This could be a quiet area of a lounge room, out­side away from oth­ers or a spare bed­room. Ask your host if it’s OK for your child to have some quiet time away by them­selves.

5. In­crease the amount of ac­tive out­side play. Just as adults ben­e­fit from move­ment and ex­er­cise to help de-stress and re­duce anx­i­ety, so do chil­dren. Make plans for ex­tra trips to the park, walk around the block af­ter din­ner or have a pic­nic and kick a ball around. Make sure you add these things to their cal­en­dar so they know they are com­ing up!

As adults we can make chil­dren feel more in con­trol dur­ing times of tran­si­tions. Don’t for­get to check out the free down­loads to help your child set­tle back into school.

For more great tips for help­ing busy chil­dren find it eas­ier cope with daily life, visit my web­site.

Deb Hop­per is an Ama­zon #1 Best Seller au­thor. She is a prac­tic­ing Oc­cu­pa­tional Ther­a­pist at Life Skills 4 Kids on the NSW Mid North Coast, Aus­tralia, she un­der­stands the day to day strug­gles that chil­dren, par­ents and teach­ers face and can be reached on her web­site.

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