11 October 2016

Chappy Kerry helps parents and children overcome fear of the unknown

Posted in Chaplaincy / School life

It’s the first day.

You walk through the school gate, hand-in-hand with your parent. It’s all new and that’s scary.

Everything is overwhelming and foreign… and not knowing what to expect makes it so much worse.

The tears well up in your eyes, knowing that you have to leave mum and dad’s side and spend the rest of the day surrounded by strangers.

Knowing all too well how hard the first day of Prep can be, Geebung State School’s chaplain Kerry Edwards wanted to make the whole transition a little less scary.

That’s why she co-created a Pre-Prep program to help both parents and children feel completely comfortable about the ensuing milestone.

Chappy Kerry is working alongside Geebung’s Prep staff, various community groups and organisations to deliver the initiative.

The program runs every year, in terms three and four, for parents and children to become familiar with the school environment even before Prep starts.

Chappy Kerry has been involved for the last four years, running workshops to ease the ‘first day blues’ so parents feel part of the school straight away.

Kerry works with the Prep teachers before running the workshops to discuss content so the sessions are relevant. She talks about various topics, such as lunch boxes and healthy eating.  “We give parents tips on healthy lunch boxes, giving the kids choices, how to involve them with their lunch box and their routines, and just how to prepare them for school,” Kerry says.

In the past, The Red Cross and The Smith Family have come into the school to run some workshops. “The Red Cross will talk about routines, preparing your kids, and surviving the school holidays. The Smith Family will talk about reading with your kids and they supply books as well.”

The program also gives parents some early learning activities to do with their kids to help with the transition into Prep. Parents can create activities and games, which they then take home to do with their child. “So they’re actually participating and making it,” Kerry says. “They’re not just sitting there and listening.”

The program has received such positive feedback, especially because it gives parents the chance to build friendships. “I encourage parents to swap email addresses and phone numbers and get together over the holidays. That way, the kids are familiar with each other and the parents are forming good friendships,” Chappy Kerry says.

For Kerry, the best thing about the workshop is forming relationships so parents feel comfortable to come to her with concerns and questions.

School chaplains often develop school programs – like Geebung State School’s Pre-Prep program – that cater for their community’s specific needs.

You can ensure chaplains are able to continue this crucial role by donating at suqld.org.au/donate. Thank you for your support!

Caitlyn Dunn

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