Starting School Well

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Starting school can be a big challenge – for our children, and for us. Research suggests that children start worrying about it at least 6 months prior to the first day at school. Our children may have big feelings about being away from us, and we may have big feelings about being away from them!And we are on a big learning curve – becoming school parents.

Boy cries in mother's arms. Maybe they have to part.Children are moving into an environment where they are expected to function much more independently, they will encounter new challenges in learning and making their way socially.

As parents, we have a key role to play in supporting our children through this transition.  The Hand in Hand Listening Tools are a powerful way to build and maintain connection and resolve difficulties through this time of change.


How can I prepare my child for the start of school?
What is my role?
What can I do about Separation Anxiety?
How can I help my child learn?
Resources which might help
Looking for immediate help?
How can I learn more? Online course “Say Goodbye to Separation Anxiety”?
Tell me more about Parenting Consultations
More information and things you might follow up

How can I prepare my child for the start of school?

There’s a lot you can do! The thing to understand is that it is your child’s sense of connection with you that will help them through the challenges of starting school. You know your child best, and you will need to be their advocate at times. But their capacity to handle the new demands of school will mostly depend on how connected they feel to you. You’ll want to pack their backpack in the mornings not just with a nutritious lunch, but with connection vitamins. And when they get home, you’ll need to unpack the backpack – of stale sandwich crusts, but also the emotional tensions your child has accumulated during the day.

You’ll find more detail about this in these articles and recordings:

Starting School – Packing the Connection Vitamins
Starting School Part 1: How to Pack the Backpack
Starting School Part 2: How to Unpack the Backpack
How was school today? Using Special Time to get the answers you need
Starting School – How to Stay Close and Help Your Child – Free Teleseminar

And you can watch this recent Webinar “Starting School with Confidence”

What is my role?

It can be hard to work out how to help your child when they encounter difficulties at school. I think our biggest job is to provide the emotional support our children need, to keep their opportunities for free play open, and to make sure we aren’t confusing our issues with our childs issues.
You might find this article interesting – it’s about what I discovered about myself when my daughter started school:

Who is starting school?

What can I do about Separation Anxiety?

Feelings about separating from you to head off to school can be a big challenge for children. And big upsets can be hard to handle at the classroom door! Sometimes it is clear that your child is struggling with big feelings about leaving you, but other times it can show up in other ways:

  • trouble with transition times, goodbyes, or bed-times or being parted from a particular toy;
  • Refusing to be cared for, or to play with, one or other parent or care giver;
  • Fearful of new things;
  • Withdrawing or becoming aggressive

You may have theories about why your child gets especially upset when you have to leave – but a couple of things are sure: It is not your fault, and there is a lot you can do to help your child. And it is never too early to begin – you can use these months before the start of school to prepare yourself and your child, so that parting is easy.

You’ll find a lot more information about how to use the Hand in Hand Listening Tools to handle Separation Anxiety here.

How can I help my child learn?

To learn well, children need a strong sense of connection – that they are heard, loved and cared about. Sometimes, in the hurley burley of school, these needs for connection are not met, and children struggle to make good decisions. They are stressed, and come home bored, listless, or upset, angry and aggressive. It won’t be easy for them to learn much when they feel like this!

We parents have a key role here – and it may not always be helping them with their maths or their English homework (although it might). Our very important job is to pack our child’s backpack with a strong sense of connection to get them through the day. And at the end of the day, we will need to help them unpack the emotional backpack they bring home. Listening Tools provide practical ways to build your child’s sense of connection, and ease the stresses which get in the way of your child’s confidence and joy in learning.

Some resources which might help

Download helpful PDF’s on
The Hand in Hand Toolbox
Special Time
Listening Partnerships
Handouts for “Starting School with Ease Webinar”

If you are downloading these, please respect our copyright policy.

Looking for immediate help?

Book a Free 20 Minute Consultation to discuss.

How can I learn more?

We highly recommend that you consider taking one of Hand in Hand Parenting’s Self-Paced Online Courses. You can find out more about how to get started with Hand in Hand here.

In particular, the self-paced course “Say Goodbye to Separation Anxiety” will give you powerful understandings of the challenge of separation and how to help your child. It is fantastic value for money and one of the best ways to get immediately useful help for your parenting – at a bargain price of $55.

You will learn why your child suffers separation anxiety and what to do about it. The course offers practical, parent-tested tools for how to respond and help your child work through their fears to become happy and confident as they reach out into the world. You get:

  • A thorough introduction to the Hand in Hand Parenting approach to solving separation anxiety while strengthening your relationship with your child.
  • Instant, unlimited access 24/7 for one year, to transformative videos and reading materials, to watch at your convenience.
  • Consisting of 15 instructional videos presented by the Founder of Hand in Hand Parenting (US), Patty Wipfler. Each video is about 15-20 min each for easy viewing and retention.
  • 9 “Listening to Children” e-booklets (worth $AU33 – $US24 value alone)

The course covers the following topics:

  • Why a sense of connection is vital to your child, and what happens when that is broken.
  • How children’s emotions work, why children get upset about separations, and why they can have big feelings about small separations.
  • How to respond to your child’s upsets – the Listening Tool of Staylistening
  • Why it gets hard for us and how we can build support for ourselves – the Listening Tool of Listening Partnerships.
  • Building connection in your relationship with your child – the Listening Tool of Special Time.
  • Planning for separations – being strategic.
  • Emotional Projects – what to do when a child has repeated upsets about separation.
  • Helping your child build their relationship with others.
  • Using playfulness to boost a child’s confidence and respond to fears – the Listening Tool of Playlistening.

Get started now with solving separation anxiety – register here.

Tell me more about Parenting Consultations

Get individualised support for your journey towards starting school! I’ll get a better picture of your particular circumstances, and we can make a plan for how you can use the Hand in Hand Tools to prepare for the transition to school, and learn more about how they can work in your family to build closeness and ease difficulties.  You can find out more and book here.

Would you like some help? Book a Free Short Consultation now!

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© 2020 by Madeleine Winter.
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