Transitioning to Kindergarten Without The Stress: A Self-Reg focused approach to welcoming children to school

Self-Reg for parents, photo of man and son sitting on the grass together

By: Tiffany Goulet

The first day of school…

For some it’s exciting, for others terrifying.

For some it’s long awaited, for others it arrived too soon.

For some they feel ready, for others not at all.

No matter how differently we all feel about this transition, we can surely agree that we want it to be smooth for everyone involved.

For the past few years St. Joseph’s School in Dryden, Ontario has really been digging deep into Self-Reg and working to change both our mindset and approaches to how we support our students and families. What we realized was that despite it being a potentially exciting time for families and students, the transition to school is ripe with stressors for everyone in each of the 5 domains.

When it came time to plan our Kindergarten Registration, what we had “always done” no longer aligned with what we believed about self-regulation and building relationships. So, we decided to completely redesign our transition plan. Now of course, with change comes risk….but in the end “nothing changes if nothing changes”, right?

Over the next six months we met our families monthly to play, to connect and to begin a slow and very intentional transition to school. Our two goals were to increase feelings of safety and security and to reduce stressors- knowing that this would help to facilitate a smooth transition in September.

The feedback from families was amazing and the first day of school was the most relaxed one I have experienced in 6 years. We saw less stress behaviours during the transition phase itself as well as into the school year.  The entire community of teachers, parents and students felt connected, calm and ready.

This change was worth the risk!

To read Tiffany’s full article as posted in The International Journal of Holistic Early Learning and Development, editor – Dr. Sonia Mastrangelo, visit: Reducing Stress Around the Transition to Kindergarten 

Contributions on the Self-Reg Community blog page come from various members of our TMC team and folks in our Self-Reg Foundations program.