It is at this time in the academic year that we all reflect on what has passed and begin to look forward to what is to come. The pandemic has made this a strange and very unpredictable year: one that will live very long in all of our memories. During our mentoring sessions with the children, we talk about what they have enjoyed, how they have changed and developed and celebrate all of their successes. Furthermore, our Year 6 leavers are completing their yearbooks, perusing photographs of themselves from their time here with us, reminiscing and laughing. Some embrace the idea of change with open arms, eagerly anticipating the new, the different, and are excited by the endless possibilities opening up before them. For others, it is a time of anxiety, trying to hold on to what they know, to what feels comfortable and safe.
Now, I find myself caught in between these two. After a long and very happy association with Gateway School, it is time for me to change, to move on and explore new possibilities. I too am torn between the new and exciting and the safe and comfortable. Just like our Year 6 children, I am reflecting on the happiness and joy I have had, the experiences that have changed me and the wonderful children, parents and staff with whom I have been lucky enough to share my time.
Making a successful transition, be it from Preschool to Reception, Year 6 to secondary school or teacher to part time Granny, is so important. It is something that should be prepared for, carefully, thoughtfully, sensitively. Next week, the team at Gateway will be helping to prepare parents for next year with a series of meetings designed to inform and reassure. The children will have their chance, on July 6th, to visit their new classes or schools and to meet their new teachers or tutors. This will help them to picture themselves in their new environments and to get to know the people who will be so important to them next year. Additionally, in the final two weeks of term, the teachers will have detailed handover meetings to help ensure a smooth transition.
Over the next few weeks, there are lots of things we can do. New skills can be taught - putting on your own coat, tying your own shoelaces, organising your own bag, or perhaps catching the bus or train independently. We must all endeavour to build perseverance, resilience and adaptability in our children as these are life skills that will be important for their future success. Talking about new regimes and schedules helps them to feel more relaxed, as does reminding them of how well they have coped before in situations where they have faced change. Reading books works for many children and the website Coping with Change has a range of books covering lots of new situations. Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival is a favourite of mine.
The most important thing for us all to do though, is to communicate. We must listen, empathise, show understanding and praise, congratulate, reassure and comfort. Through change we grow, improve and achieve our dreams. Believe in the possible. “It only seems impossible until it is done.” – Nelson Mandela