How was your school or nursery run today? Here's how ours went, but first some background...
My four-year-old twins started school for the first time in September, and only a few days after moving house to a completely new area too! Their school also offered no transition beforehand, and very little during the first few days: the children were in, full time, straight into timetable, from the first moment. That's tough for any child, let alone ones with high anxiety!
We spent several weeks with both children feeling very distressed in the morning - waking up crying, physically resisting going into the classroom, clinging and crying, and then we had terribly distressed, aggressive and anxious behaviour at home in the afternoons too. That is, until we began walking to school.
The school run has become our salvation.
It's 1km to school and 1km back, so a pretty long walk for little legs! And, in preparation, I spent time walking the route on my own to discover several landmarks that would help my children to notice when they were getting closer to school, and things in people's gardens that we could look for and smell: smelling flowers, gently and respectfully as they're overhanging the pavement from people's homes, is a great way to get some deep breathing into the day!
These pictures are from our walk this morning - Monday mornings can so often be a harum-scarum hurry, and by the time we're organised and out of the front door we can all feel a little frazzled! But, we have so much to see and do!
So, the ball chrysanthemum at the top we've been looking at for several weeks since it was in bud; each day when we walk past we look to see how it's changed, if we can guess what colour the flowers will be and now, as it's in full bloom, we admire its cheerful colours.
We smell the roses as we pass, lifting the blooms up using the back of a little finger, and, if petals have fallen on the pavement, we pick them up to feel how silky-soft they are.
We wave to this bed of Sunflowers every morning and say 'Hello! Have a good day! See you later!', and we say 'Hello! Have a good evening! See you tomorrow!' on the way home - my children now do this without prompting and are very enthusiastic about it. These simple words help my children remember that they're not being abandoned at school forever: I will be coming back to get them in a few hours, and then they will becoming home. Likewise, saying 'See you tomorrow' helps my children remember that school is ongoing and they will be back again tomorrow.
This morning, my most anxious child said: 'Now the sunflowers are dying back, I would like to send a letter to the person who planted them to tell them how much we've enjoyed seeing them, and that we wave at them every day'.
It's great that he's feeling okay with the sunflowers potentially going away!
The next step will be to see if we can now work together - adult and children - to find another landmark to wave to each morning and afternoon until the sunflowers come back.
We're looking forward to frosty walks to school now so we can make 'Dragon' breath steam clouds in the air. We'll see if we can breathe out and make a continuous cloud of steam for five, ten or fifteen steps for example. Or, we'll puff like a steam train!
Walking to school has helped my children arrive at the classroom door calm and ready; walking home from school helps them arrive home calm and ready, too.
Make the school run a gift to everyone's day - all this stuff is massively helpful to you as the grown-up too!
Have a great week!