Back to school symbolic play

Game of the week:

This week I am thinking about 'starting school'. It's that time of the year where the summer holidays are coming to a close and many children are either, starting school or nursery, or are heading back to school, or if homeschooled, back to the weekly activities planned.

My 3 year old is going to be doing a couple of days at nursery and my eldest 3 days at a home-ed group. My eldest is thrilled to be going back, but my 3 year is not so enamoured by this idea of school.

I have been initiating lots of games surrounding separations, connection and starting school.

She is rather fond of Maisie Mouse, so I bought her 'Maisie Starts Nursery', which she won't even let her sister touch! At the end it says that Maisie had a good day and likes nursery. She said she 'doesnt like nursery.' I think it's important to allow these feelings, so I accepted them, and said she doesn't have to like it, but we are going to try it.'

Since buying the book she has played 'nursery' everyday. Her sister joined in one of the games being the teacher and I had to drop her off at school. Her sister said I could wait downstairs, but my 3 year old said 'no that's too far, you can wait in the room next door.' So I did. For quite a long time. Until it was 'time to see your mummy'. I happily collected her asking her all about her day. She loved this game. She simply enjoyed acting out what it would be like.

It's so much more than a game though. It helps children work through their fears, frustrations, anger, the 'unknown', separations etc. Often when they bring laughter to the games it is a powerful way of healing stress and trauma too.

➡️ Have a go at initiating a 'school game' and see what they bring to the table. You can use props or you can use small world toys.

➡️ You can reverse roles too. Especially if an older child is scared of their new teacher, they can be the teacher and you the child and they can boss you about and you can say things like, 'Gosh you're a scary teacher'. If they are laughing it is working.

➡️ You can bring some nonsense play into it. Ie start to write with a paint brush and look all confused at why it isn't working, then try use your shoe etc etc. It is albout supporting healing through laughter in nonsense games.

➡️ other games that help with school are separation games ie hide and go seek for older children and peek-a-boo or the 'where are you I can't find you game.'

➡️ lot's of connection games like being glued together and rough and tumble too.

And of course!
➡️ The Baby game where you allow your child to regress whenever they initiate it allowing them to be that age. This helps children move on profoundly.

I hope these ideas help make these transitions more connected and healing for your family. ❤️