Saturday 22nd January 2022

School Education Advice From Denyse. Retired K- 6 Principal. 99/2020.

School Education Advice From Denyse. Retired K- 6 Principal. 99/2020.

Back in 2016 I published this post after questions from other bloggers.

Given we are at the end of the school and pre-school year 2020…a most extraordinary year thanks to COVID19 and many challenging experiences for children at pre-school and school, along with the parents and carers, I decided to re-fresh this post…and it may just go some way to helping as Christmas holidays beckon.


How you can best help develop your kids social skills and confidence?

  • The socialisation of school is such a rich part of the journey of learning and the new separation from the family once starting school. It is a HUGE leap forward in terms of change and we can recall what it is like to start a new job, or a new course or even…maybe we have more than an inkling!


  • I believe that children will be, in many instances, influenced by their genes, their parents’ and siblings’ modelling and their age of readiness for school’s more formal learning and socialising ways. This influence can be one of encouragement, maybe of ‘fake it till you make it’ and of over-empathising too. Children will often mirror the emotional resilience in many ways of what & who they know and what they have been like since they were born.


  • Before starting school is the place to begin to build the social skills and confidence with encouraging extended time away from parents. By this I mean things like play dates at others’ houses, staying overnight with trusted people such as grandparents and joining in activities such as at playgroup, pre-school, sport/gymnastics/dancing. I do not recommend it all and certainly not at once. This can start occurring at around 3 years I believe if the children have not been used to out of home care at any time.


  • Look to yourself with the confidence about this too. I see that kids can take on board parents’ emotions so very easily and we, the adults, need to be extra careful of our words and non-verbal actions.


  • I have to add one of the things I like to ‘ban’ parents saying to their children when they start school is “I will miss you so much”. Why? I have known kids who would have settled well be unable to do so because they were worried about Mummy/Daddy/Grandma is  missing them!


Kids in the early days and terms of school will, ideally, know how to:

  • separate from their parent(s) with relative ease after starting school.
  • look after their own physical needs – toileting, caring for belongings, getting lunch and recess food out and being able to eat independently
  • know how to listen to and respond to an adult who is not familiar to them but in a position of respect at the school
  • be able to accept some disappointments and learn how to wait for attention
  • be a confident responder to questions posed by other children and teachers
  • make eye contact ( as culturally relevant, it is not always deemed respectful) and to ensure they can engage in a conversation at an age-appropriate level
  • join in with peer and group activities at the level at which they feel confident. Not everyone is a leader but some are very quiet and active participants!

Once they are at school it is great if parents can link up with like-minded families for more socialising after school, for birthdays and more as when the parents begin to engage socially with the peers’ parents this becomes a win/win in ideal cases. Much of this has changed with COVID restrictions in force and some states are different to others.

I do not say it always pick your groups or friends with care but I do know that for some families, those friendships started when their kids started school have continued!


Moving from being a bit concerned, worried and little shy….



to becoming more confident over time…

How have you managed your children’s social skills as they started school and now they are at school?

What has worked for you and the children?


Interesting to read the comments from 2016. I have left them there. And, opened comments for this post.

Linking up here with Leanne and friends. Probably the last Thursday link up for 2020?






  1. Great tips Denyse. My daughter is almost 3 and I’m hoping that my mum will take her overnight every now and then soon to start getting her used to being away from me. She’s stayed with her for short periods during the day but never overnight. #teamIBOT

    • Thanks Toni. Great idea to ease her into this. We had almost all of our grandkids stay overnight from the time they could sleep through the night. Their parents were only 15 minutes away if things didn’t work out. I can’t recall we ever had to ‘ring’. The kids came to us to stay and still do. It’s a joy for us! I am keeping you in mind too, with your question about starting school. This will form part of a post in June! Cheers, Denyse

  2. I think my biggest hurdle on the social front has been teaching my kids about the value of compromise and empathy for others. Many kids struggle to learn that part of friendship, mine more than most!!! x

    • It can be hard watching them struggle with this isn’t it? You can only do so much as a parent and experience and time seems to be the greatest
      ‘teacher’. Thanks for your honest approach. It’s a tough call this parenting gig. Denyse x

  3. I have tried to not say the ‘I’ll miss you thing,’ but it’s hard when the child says it to you and expects it back. So I often qualify it with, ‘I’ll miss you, but you will have so much fun today,’ and that seems to make it easier.
    I was concerned last year how we would go this year, but one year made a huge amount of difference.

  4. That’s a great approach Jess and I’m glad that works. A few parents have made their kids more anxious by talking about it waaaaay before school even starts & I know it is meant to be a loving thing but kids can take it to heart. I’m glad things are going well! Denyse x

  5. This is a great post Denyse and timely. My ex and his wife are saying my daughter is lacking in social skills and I’m starting to agree with them. Ever since she was at kindy she only ever stuck to one friend. Even though she knows how to talk to people and has manners, she’s a bit ‘awkward’ to her friends now (and I personally don’t think they’re ‘friend’ material). She’s in grade 6 and starting high school next year and I’m starting to worry about her. If you do look at her father and I, she definitely takes after him as far as social skills go. My son, on the other hand (aged 9) can be shy and sensitive but seems to be more ‘normal’ when it comes to forming friendships and being socially active. I’m trying to come up with ways for her to develop these social skills now but I’m struggling. I think it might just be in her nature but at the same time I don’t want her picked on for being a little ‘strange’. (We did have her tested for Asperger’s a couple years ago because of her social awkwardness and other things but the pediatrician only said she was ‘quirky’.) If you could point me in the direction of some advice, I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks for your wisdom Denyse.

    Anne xx

    • Hi Anne, I understand this notion of ‘social skills’ can be something you are concerned about for your daughter, particularly as she is off to High School in 2017. However, that said, if this is part of her nature and then there is something to be said about what you ‘can’t change’. If, though, it is affecting her as she matures and is needing to make the challenging transition to High School then my first suggestion would be to make an appointment to see her class teacher and raise the issues of concern. I would, as part of that process, ask to see your daughter’s principal/deputy or whoever is in charge of Year 6 and see if you might get their advice via the various counselling services Qld may have. I only know how NSW public schools work so am basing my suggestions from this. Not everyone is outgoing or socially confident but if she needs some tools to help her then that’s the way I’d be viewing it seeing as she has been to see a medical professional. Hope that helps. Denyse

  6. Great post Denyse.

  7. Great advice for parents Denyse. It’s hard to believe how fast time has gone. My youngest child finished school 8 years ago now! xo

  8. This is useful info Denyse and I’ll remember not to say ‘I’ll miss you so much’, when my grandchidlfren start school 🙂