This edition is all around transitions and is written by my colleague Nikki
We wanted to share a blog that's a little bit different and look at mental health alongside the practicalities of transition - also don't miss the opportunity to download our free transition resources - see the end of the blog for info.
Transition. The word means so many different things to so many people, but has been taken over and almost become a noun in its own right in recent years to mean ‘children moving classes in a new school year’.
This summer, many adults/parents are transitioning from work to holiday mode and back again and many children and young people are preoccupied with a more significant change of scene ahead. I feel like I am having to manage my own transition from a long Bank Holiday weekend back to work on Tuesday!
Whether they’re starting school, moving up to primary or secondary school, sixth form, university or the workplace, it can be an unsettling, stressful time.
Helping prepare young people for change and to be resilient is a long game, but a consistently nurturing approach helps them to develop the inner strength, confidence and resilience which will stand them in good stead from the nursery climbing frame to the top of their career ladder.
For parents of children going through any transition stage, these are our top tips:
Let youngsters take the lead
Anyone encouraged to find their own approach will have to stand back, evaluate and apply their own knowledge – an invaluable discipline at any age. So, whether they’re preparing for school, a new course or the workplace, prompt the thought process with open-ended questions, rather than leading it. Let them know what they need to do to move on to the next stage, by all means, but empower them to take that step themselves, with your support. This active, independent learning style develops critical thinking skills which are vital at university, the workplace – and throughout life.
Praise effort and be ready to help them figure out another approach when one fails. One of the scariest things about trying something new is a fear of failure and you can help alleviate that fear by consistently reassuring them that nothing – (from a wrong answer to a missed A Level grade) – is the end of the world. Failure is an essential part of learning and really does make us stronger, but only if we have the confidence to have another go. Problems should be viewed as challenges rather than threats; in overcoming them, we discover new strengths. And knowing that someone believes in you makes all the difference.
Discovering new things together from an early age helps children work in teams. They should get plenty of practice at this in the classroom, but it’s never too early to learn how to collaborate. Playing an active part in discussions and inevitable compromises, and respecting others’ opinions, help develop social skills and is great preparation for the future. Be enthusiastic about seeking answers together; a positive ‘can do’ attitude to negotiating hurdles is the best role model to offer a young person.
Constructive conversation is more effective than criticism. If you think their homework isn’t up to scratch, for example, pick out the parts they’ve done well before suggesting they develop or revisit certain areas. If you doubt their choice of topic or university course, acknowledge the positives before introducing alternatives. Whether or not they ultimately take notice, having a calm debate exerts young people’s powers of persuasion and resilience. It also encourages self-reflection, which is useful to any learner. Challenge spurs us on to stretch ourselves – and considering alternative views is good preparation for life.
Communication is the most important tip for us all, whether you are a parent, carer or teacher. All change – from starting school to starting work – brings uncertainty. Make the time to listen and acknowledge any concerns; if you don’t have the answers, suggest you work together to find a solution. For a child transitioning to secondary school, for example, you could discuss with them how the new school day works, the fact they may be having different subject teachers for the first time and about the house system. Older pupils may find it useful to use you as a sounding board; gently manage their expectations, if necessary, but be reassuring, positive and supportive. Above all, encourage them to ask for help when they need it.
Good Teachers and Parents recognise and nurture individual strengths, because helping children achieve success in one area, even if it’s not academic, boosts their self-esteem, which rubs off on those subjects where they’re less confident. Learning is fired by enthusiasm and self-belief – and the best fuel is acknowledging every achievement, no matter how small.
The best preparation for life we can offer any child is to help them become confident, well-rounded and respectful young people who not only have a solid foundation of knowledge, but can confidently apply it in any social or workplace situation. By nurturing these key skills and providing a supportive network, we can equip today’s children and young people to approach transition as a positive move throughout their lives.
If you would like our free downloads on transition support - please email us - firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d love to hear how you felt about this and our other blogs – comment at the bottom and contact me via;
tweet me: @sharonnatflair
follow me: facebook natural-flair-life-and-parent-coaching