As children transition to school, a change in behaviour is quite common. Children are adjusting to a new setting and forming new relationships with staff and other children.
They may also be feeling a sense of loss after leaving their previous education and care setting where they may have formed important friendships with other children and relationships with early childhood educators.
Why seeking help early is important
All children adjust to new settings differently and some children may need extra support and assistance in settling into school.
You may have some concerns about how your child will cope when starting school. Perhaps they had a hard time adjusting to their early childhood education setting and the educator had raised some concerns with you.
Or, despite the planning and preparation you’ve done in helping to get your child ready for school, they may be having difficulties adjusting to their new school setting.
If you are concerned about your child, take time to observe them in a range of situations or settings (eg. at school in the morning and end of the day, visiting friends and at the shops). Take note of when, where and how often your child is showing the particular behaviour or emotion of concern.
You may need to get help during the transition to school, and in the weeks or months after school has begun.
The earlier you access help, the better, so that your child receives the best support possible.
If you’re worried about how your child is settling into school these are some steps you can take that will help:
1. Talk to your child’s teacher
You know your child best and if you are, at any time, concerned about your child, a good place to start is sharing your concerns with your child’s teacher. School staff can support families as well as children; they have a lot of knowledge about child development and learning, and have observed your child during the day with children of the same age. Discuss any strategies that you have found useful in responding to your child’s needs with their teacher. They may also have suggestions about what strategies they have found helpful to support your child.
2. Get to know what types of assistance may be available for children and families in your area
There are many different levels of assistance and support, and it is important to find the right one that suits you and your child. You may also be referred to a professional service such as psychologist or paediatrician.
Some types of assistance available include:
- Within the school
This can include discussions with teachers, family and peer networks or wellbeing staff within your child’s school. Your child’s school may also have information, resources and activities available for parents and carers.
- Within the wider community
This can include GPs, paediatricians, psychologists, counsellors, family and friends. Members of the wider community may also run information sessions on activities and groups that your child and/or family can attend. Making an appointment with your GP may be a good place to start as they can help you decide if there is a need for specialist support and refer you to an appropriate children’s mental health specialist if required.
The Starting school: further resources page has a range of downloadable children activity books, online resources and links to government websites.