Lifestyle

Parents and students on learning curve

Owen Wilson and his mum Wendy Wilson are all set for school in 2017.
Owen Wilson and his mum Wendy Wilson are all set for school in 2017. John McCutcheon

FIVE-YEAR-OLD Owen Wilson is all smiles about starting school in a week but it was a different story just a year ago. Owen's parents, Wendy and Jamie, had intended sending him to prep last year but as they fronted up to enrolment and induction days, it became apparent to them that he was not ready.

The Wilsons made the difficult decision to delay sending Owen to prep for a year but in Wendy said in hindsight it was "the best thing".

"Last year, when we went to induction, he was hiding behind me and wasn't excited at all. This year, he couldn't wait to go," Wendy said.

"Last year, when we went to enrolment, he tried on the uniform but he cried the whole time. This year, he left the school with it on. He keeps pulling it out of the bag."

Wendy will not be surprised if Owen bounces off with friends as soon as he arrives at school on day one, and if he does, he and she will be the lucky ones. Dr Stephen Carbone, of Beyond Blue, said it was not unusual for children to feel worried or stressed about starting school.

 

Owen Wilson and his mum Wendy Wilson.
Owen Wilson and his mum Wendy Wilson. John McCutcheon

"Some degree of nervousness or anxiety is pretty normal in that situation," Dr Carbone said.

"We all get a bit anxious when we are doing something new or for the first time. For kids and their parents, it's a big step moving into primary school."

But while a degree of anxiety or nervousness is normal, Dr Carbone said some children could suffer significant stress. He said excess anxiety could mean a child finds it hard to settle, cries, runs back to the car or will not let parents go, or refuses to go to school the next day.

Separation anxiety was a particularly common problem for youngsters heading off to school for the first time, he said. Parents could minimise their children's susceptibility to separation anxiety way before the school gates by getting them used to staying with grandparents, friends or at childcare.

"They get to realise that it's okay for a parent to leave, that they will come back, that they won't be left alone and that the parent will be all right," he said.

Dr Carbone said preparation was a key for parents sending children off to start school happy and he encouraged parents to make the most of opportunities to introduce their children to school before day one.

 

Thousands of children are set to step through the school gates this year.
Thousands of children are set to step through the school gates this year. David De Lossy

 

"This is why a lot of schools have induction programs. If you familiarise kids, it's a good thing. They like to know what they are getting into," he said.

"The induction days are short days, small doses, that let kids see what it's going to be like in a great way."

He said children should also be exposed to change and new experiences before they hit school age.

"Let them have a go and try new things so they can build up confidence," he said.

Wendy found the passage of time, home-based activities such a reading books about school, and increased attendance at kindergarten, made all the difference in getting Owen ready for school this year. He had already been going to kindy five days a fortnight but she enrolled him in a second kindergarten.

"I needed the space from him and he needed the space from me. We don't have any younger kids and our friends don't have any kids or kids his age who are at school, so we thought it would be good for him," she said.

"The second kindy also has long days and we thought it would be good for him to do the long days. School will be new to him but the days will be shorter."

She said choosing to delay prep for Owen had not been an easy decision but the extra year of kindergarten helped him grow up.

"That has probably made him more independent, more confident. He's mixing with two different sets of children at the two kindergartens, and when he starts school, he'll know more kids because he's been to two different kindys," Wendy said.

 

Some kids are excited and others are terrified about their first day of school.
Some kids are excited and others are terrified about their first day of school. Tom Huntley GLA201212FASH

Psychologist Barry Kerr, former school teacher and school counsellor, said building up children's confidence and self-esteem through social interaction was a key to making school a positive place for them.

Mr Kerr said children were subject to more influences and consequently stress as a result of the use of soocial media, mobile phones and the internet these days and hence needed strong relationships that allowed then to feel comfortable about themselves. He said parents could foster strong relationships by encouraging their children to interact with others through sport and extra-curricular activities.

"Sport is so important. They need to get out and do things," he said.

Mr Kerr said parents could also help their children by talking, listening and building a rapport with their children rather than lecturing, providing a stable home life, and trying to be positive role models.

But he said it was also important to remember that children were different and not all were ready to learn at the same time.

"Children will actually learn when they are ready," he said.

Damian and Rachel Styring's first-born, Sienna, started prep last year at four. Damian said Sienna had been happy to go but as one of the youngest in her cohort, struggled with the curriculum, which has become more focused on structured learning than play. After much deliberation, the Styrings have decided to leave Sienna in prep for a second year.

 

Some parents have to make the difficult decision to hold their children back from starting Prep for a year.
Some parents have to make the difficult decision to hold their children back from starting Prep for a year. Luka Kauzlaric

"It was really difficult to make that decision. I felt we'd failed as parents and should have put more time into helping her but she was just very young," Damian said.

He said Sienna was still in holiday mode but would be excited as back-to-school day got closer.

"We've said to her that there's a few kids repeating, and you're going to be special helpers for the other kids starting prep. We're putting a positive slant on it," he said.

Damian expected beginning school a second time would be just as exhausting for the family as first time around.

"The teacher explained to us, that after the first three weeks, the kids are exhausted with anxiety and excitement and dealing with five days, and we're exhausted with dealing with grumpy kids," he said.

"They said if they are are still tired after four weeks, let the kids have a day off to recover."

Mr Kerr said it was important for parents to encourage their children but not pressure them with unrealistic expectations.

"If they are doing the best they can, that's all you can ask for," Mr Kerr said.

Beyond Blue has an interactive online program for young people experiencing anxiety and programs for parents, too.

Find The BRAVE Program at youthbeyondblue.com.

Topics:  education parents school students


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Chinchilla woman tells of 'life changing' trip to Cambodia

BRIGHTER FUTURE: The Community School of Hope is a small school based in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Mellissa Johnston is on a mission to help Cambodia's children.

Monster melon takes out Big Melon Weigh-In

(L-R) Hydie, Bec, Kyron and Drew Sturgess of Sturgess Farming with their Big Melon Weigh-In winning melon, which pipped the scales at 75kg.

Monster melon takes out competition

'A Slice of Chinchilla' steals the show at Melon Art Comp

Chinchilla artist Dion Cross won the spatial construction category and the judge's praise at the Melon Festival Art Competition for "A Slice of Chinchilla”.

Giant watermelon has the tools to win top accolade

Local Partners

Paul Murray listens to regions

The man who can talk underwater is ready to listen and broadcast it back to the pollies.

Why Hollywood’s siding with Brad Pitt over Angelina Jolie

Jolie may have the kids, but Pitt has custody of Hollywood

Tensions high at pointy end of MKR's round two

Things are really heating up on My Kitchen Rules.

Games are being played around the My Kitchen Rules table

Jungle Jay sent packing from I'm a Celebrity

I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Here! contestant Jay Laga'aia with Keira.

BIG friendly giant Jay Laga'aia has been eliminated from I'm A Celeb

Carson Kressley brings 'camp' to I'm a Celebrity jungle

"I am not all Park Avenue and daffodils” ... Carson Kressley.

Meet the "campest” campmate to star on I'm a Celebrity.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi mystery already solved

FILE- This undated file photo provided by Disney shows Daisey Ridley as Rey, left, and John Boyega as Finn, in a scene from the film, \"Star Wars: The Force Awakens.\" Hasbro said it is changing its Star Wars Monopoly set after an 8-year-old girl became upset that Rey, the movie's female heroine, was not included as a figure along with Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. (Disney/Lucasfilm via AP, File) MANDATORY CREDIT

A key mystery surrounding the title of episode eight has been solved

Kids' game "full of f**king paedophiles" according to dad

A mortified dad has expressed serious concerns over an online game

Expert: Why renters, home buyers may struggle

Matusik Property Insights director Michael Matusik.

What's next for the city's housing market

Massive seaside development of 3200 lots

DESIRABLE LIFESTYLE: The masterplan for the proposed Elliott Heads Estate.

"There's nothing else left along the coastline of Queensland now"

Potential home buyers punished for doing the 'right thing'

Should I go to university or buy a house?

50 more high rise buildings planned for Brisbane CBD

Height limits have been scrapped for Brisbane CBD

800,000 more people expected to work in city over next 20 years

New suburb in the crosshairs of Coast vandals

UNDER WRAPS: Graffiti on art installations at the entrance to the newly opened Bells Creek Arterial Road has been covered up.

Vandal rechristens Stockland as something less than complimentary

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!