Today was the first day of school for my girls! Since they are in a Montessori environment where children are grouped together in 3 year cohorts, neither child was headed to a new classroom or even a new teacher, and 2/3 of the children in their classes will be the same ones from last year. So as far as experiencing something new goes, the first day of school this year might seem to an adult to be highly unlikely to cause much nervousness.
But this was not the case, and I suspected it might not be, which is why for the past week we have been frequently playing school. Pretend play is one of the very best ways children can express concerns and fears and then actually work through them as if it were a dress rehearsal for what’s to come in real life. By playing school with my girls I was able to get a bit of insight into their worries (like whether or not they will have the same spot for their cubbies) and to work through what to do should something uncomfortable happen (such as not getting to sit with a friend on the first day).
You can create a pretend school environment in many different ways, but we have especially enjoyed using the City Life School House and School Bus that Playmobil sent our way for review. I’ve personally found that the girls will extend the imaginary world further and break out of character less often when they are using little figurines as opposed to just using themselves as the characters.
Using these items we have had so much fun setting up the classroom, practicing getting on and off the school bus (my kids don’t take a bus but they are totally fascinated by the idea of it!), working together with another student, and playing during recess.
This Playmobil set requires some very basic assembly, which the girls enjoyed, and it comes with several smaller pieces which didn’t thrill me, but TOTALLY thrilled the kids. 🙂 I will say that those small items have been used a great deal during play time.
Are you kids nervous about heading back to school, or if they are already in school do they seem to be struggling a little bit with the adjustment? I highly recommend sitting down with them to play school, be it with these items from Playmobil or simply by using what you have on hand to construct a little classroom. Let your child take the lead with what’s going on and you’ll be surprised by how quickly you can pick up on what might be troubling them or causing some anxious feelings. Play provides the perfect way to practice working through problems and increasing confidence that all will be ok.