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Saying Bye to Old Friends

Its K2 graduation time, but your kid is upset because everyone’s going to a different primary school. But goodbye doesn’t mean forever. Here are 5 tips to help with the transition:

It’s time for your six-year-old to bid farewell to his teachers and friends in preschool as he prepares to start Primary 1 next month. As they’ve been classmates together for four years, he is understandably tearful at having to make new friends all over again. In fact, he doesn’t seem very enthusiastic at all about primary school – he realises that although a few of his buddies might attend the same school and one might even be in the same class, it’s almost certain that the majority won’t share this new phase in his life. Here’s how to guide him through this common dilemma.

REASSURE HIM Coping with the separation from his friends can actually be more difficult for your sensitive six-year-old than adapting to the new school environment. That’s why it’s important for you to reassure him that attending primary school does not mean he has to lose contact with his preschool friends. He can make new ones – and, hopefully, he will – without breaking the relationships he has with his former preschool pals. That may be obvious to you, but not to him. Your child might think that they can’t see or play with each other anymore because they attend different schools.

PLAN HOLIDAY PLAY DATES In the year-end period before joining primary school, there is a risk that your “new start” can become so caught in the preparations for his new school that he temporarily forgets his old pals. Make sure this doesn’t happen by arranging for them to visit. During the play date, talk to them about their own preparations and encourage them to discuss this with each other. Children love comparing notes about teachers, classrooms, uniforms and school rules.

ENCOURAGE HIM TO MINGLE Your kid needs to form friendships with his new classmates, but he might find it difficult to strike a balance between making new pals while still retaining links with his old one. Yet, he has to play with his primary school classmates now that most of his preschool pals are no longer with him in school. Remind him that making new friends doesn’t mean that he is disloyal to his existing chums; both groups can play an important part in his life. Point out that his classmates will be just as anxious as him about playing with unfamiliar children.

KEEP IN TOUCH Suggest that he makes a definite arrangement to stay in contact with his old classmates. For example, he could phone his best pal at the end of the first day at the new school, or he could visit him if they live close together. Early contact of this sort will boost your child’s confidence and will ease the emotional pain of the separation. He will thoroughly enjoy sharing his experiences with his old friend (and vice versa), and if he is troubled with the physical split between them, a long chat on the telephone will settle his considerably. Organise an activity for your child and his preschool pals.

MIX THE TWO SOCIAL GROUPS Once your kid is over this early hurdle and has made new pals while staying close to his preschool friends, talk to him about bringing the two groups together. For instance, his best friend at primary school could play with him alongside his best friend from his preschool days. Although this could be awkward at first – and your child might be anxious about mixing the two sets of friends – it is certainly worth considering. With your support and encouragement, he’ll be able to have the best of both social worlds.


By Dr. Richard C. Woolfson, Young Parents, December 2014 

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