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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. We’ve been 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. We would play, connect, and begin a slow and very intentional transition to school. Our first goal was to increase feelings of safety and security. Our second goal was to reduce stressors- knowing that this would help to facilitate a smooth transition in September.

The feedback from families was amazing! The first day of school was the most relaxed one I have experienced in 6 years. We saw less stress behaviours during the transitioning to kindergarten 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!

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