Be Child Care Aware: Changing Classes Can Be Stressful For Children

Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  4/22/2005 12:59:41 AM

News You Can Use For March 2005

Some of the most stressful times children experience come when they move from one classroom to another, according to LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe.

"Very young children often cannot express their fears about moving to a new classroom, while older pre-school children have mixed emotions about the transition," Gioe explains. "But whatever the age, transitions are a major change and will affect everyone involved."

While transitions can cause fear and behavioral changes, Gioe says there are many things parents and caregivers can do to facilitate a smooth move from one classroom to another.

"Sharing information with the child’s new teachers is vitally important. Teachers and parents should stress the child’s abilities and voice concerns cautiously to the new teachers," she explains.

In addition, Gioe says it is important for the current teacher to understand what will be expected of the children in their new class and to help prepare them for the move.

"Field trips between classes are an excellent way to prepare children," she says.

Changes to the existing environment and curriculum also can facilitate smooth transitions, according to Gioe.

"Add books about going to school, growing up, new teachers and new friends to the book center," she says, adding, "Children love to role play stories they have read."

Another helpful action is to add props in both classrooms that help children to feel comfortable.

"In the current class, provide items that the children may encounter in their new classroom, while the new classroom needs to provide materials from their previous classes to help the children develop a sense of belonging," Gioe explains.

Finally, Gioe says parents can help to facilitate smooth transitions by encouraging "play dates" with children during out-of-school times.

"Teachers also can provide children with class directories that include such things as photos," Gioe says. "These will assist the children in becoming familiar with one another."

The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.

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Contacts:    Cheri Gioe at (225) 578-6701 or cgioe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor:         Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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