Big School Excitement

Children begin the year with the excitement of big school. Uniforms, new teachers, new friends, bells, canteen, the list goes on.

The start of “big school” can be a period of excitement for children – new uniforms, new teachers, new friends, lunch orders.

However, for some children it is a time of heightened anxiety and some children may feel overwhelmed, scared, confused, frustrated or angry.
Our natural reaction is to simply say, ‘You’ll be fine!’ ‘You will have so much fun!’ We say this to encourage children to be brave, but have we really addressed the issue?

I used to be one of those children. I was excited, but I was also shy and nervous in so many ways for the expectations of big school.

Drama as a Teaching Tool for Learning

As a shy child, drama is what got me through it. My mother noticed I was quiet and very much in my shell. Boy, has that changed now! I took part in a Drama Skills Workshop over the course of a few weeks and it worked. It helped me to gain self-esteem and confidence in myself. That closed shell, was finally open and a brighter, happier and resilient child shone through.

When children are feeling this way with many thoughts, feelings and questions, it is so important to talk about it and talk through it. Not only that but having the strategies to do this, will help to shape their understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Ready, Set, School!

We offer a Social, Emotional Learning (SEL) Program from 4 year old preschool. This is a school readiness program called ‘Ready, Set, School!‘. In this program, we use a very special puppet called Seal and together we talk about what to expect in big school and our worries.

From my experience, it’s always really interesting and lovely to see the kids react to Seal’s emotions of primary school as well as being able to relate to her feelings as well. The rapport and engagement between the children and Seal allows them to express their own emotions and use the correct vocabulary that they were looking for. I remember one day while running this workshop, Seal said that she was worried about ‘new teachers’ and one of the children turned around and told me that he felt the same way. He hadn’t realised that was a ‘worry’ until it had been discussed.

Another important part of the Ready, Set, School! is discussing how it is okay for Seal and themselves to have those emotions inside and how it’s important to talk about it with someone you trust. Positive affirmations have always been successful, allowing the child to believe in oneself and above all – it’s gorgeous to watch!

My most common ones that I love doing with the kids are – ‘I am Brave’, ‘I am Strong’, ‘I can do Anything!’ These also help with children starting to expand and grow their mindset and attitudes; which is one of the biggest concepts that The Drama Toolbox prides itself on.

By Sarah Edwards, Drama Teacher

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