As the last half term begins and teachers tweak their reports, finish their assessments, tidy up their documentation and clear their rooms, spare a thought for the children who dislike change and feel nervous rather than excited by the thought of holidays and then a new school/class in September.
Many children are caught up already in the tears and fears that change brings for them. A lot of children find change horribly upsetting, unsettling, and frankly something that they would rather avoid.
So how can we, as teachers, create the opportunities for children in our classes to talk about and address these fears?
One of the mini-units of work that I have always found to be wonderful at this time of the year is ‘Butterflies’.One of the mini-units of work that I have always found to be wonderful at this time of the year is ‘Butterflies’. My class and I would look at caterpillar books, (The Very Hungry Caterpillar is wonderful to use and http://www.butterflybuzz.com/ has lots of wonderful butterfly books to read together) view YouTube to watch time lapse clips of butterflies changing, talk about change, take photos of things that change, make a vocaroo (http://vocaroo.com/) or voicethread (http://voicethread.com/) about the things that are great about a new school (or new class) – new friends, new uniform, new school bag, new lunchbox (for those heading from Nursery/daycare into Reception).
Somehow just knowing that adults have fears too can make children feel better about their own fears.We would also brainstorm things that we are afraid of like spiders, the dark and so on. I like to get my class to do a mini-interview with their parents to find out what they are afraid of. Somehow just knowing that adults have fears too can make children feel better about their own fears. There is a fantastic book called Butterflies In My Stomach and Other School Hazards by Serge Bloch, which we like to have a good giggle over – it is actually a book about the silly English language but it’s a great way to talk about and investigate what it is like to be nervous or worried and links nicely to the whole butterfly theme.
So, as you settle back and relax into the next month or so of school, winding down and preparing for change yourselves, spare a thought and perhaps devote some time to reassuring the children in your classes that change is a wonderful and natural part of life, but even adults don’t like it sometimes…especially if it means they have to pack up classrooms or move schools!