Noordkaap Bulletin

Get Gr. 1s ready for their first school weeks

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Takalani Sesame helps kids deal with their “big feelings” and airs on SABC 2 weekdays at 15:30.
Takalani Sesame helps kids deal with their “big feelings” and airs on SABC 2 weekdays at 15:30.
Photo: Supplied

Parents can adopt a few strategies to help their Gr. 1 children get through their big feelings of change and uncertainty, and to practice some basic social-emotional skills to make the process easier.

“There’s plenty parents can do to support their children, because parents are children’s first and most important teachers,” explains Mari Payne, director of Education and Outreach at Sesame Workshop International, South Africa.

Payne provides some activities and games parents can play with their children to help get them ready for the first term of 2023:

Taking turns

Being patient and waiting for their turn is something that may be new to children starting school. Practice turn taking with children by using verbal cues (“my turn, your turn” or “first you, then me, now you, now me”) and use timers to show how much time they will have to wait for their turn. You can use a digital timer, like on a phone or tablet, a kitchen timer, or a sand timer.

Sharing is caring

Sharing with others is an important school readiness skill. Practice this skill by engaging in cooperative or collaborative play, like building a block tower together or painting together using the same jar of paintbrushes.

Whole-body listening

Playing “Simon Says” is a great way to help children practice listening and following directions. Try adding each element of whole-body listening into the game (“Simon says… sit criss-cross on the floor, look at my face, use calm hands,” and so on). You can also challenge them to listen to an entire story without interrupting.


Help children practice and build confidence with self-care tasks that they may need to do themselves in a school setting, such as cleaning up after themselves, putting on and taking off their own jackets or shoes, or using a lunch box.

  • Payne also provides the following advice for the first weeks of school, commenting that managing big feelings is a skill that can take lots of practice.

The three-step strategy “breathe, think, do” can help in tough moments.

Breathe: Encourage children to slowly take three deep breaths.

Think: Help children come up with some possible plans to solve their problem.

Do: Together, choose a plan and try it out. If it doesn’t work, try another.

Teach them the phrase, “I just can’t do it yet.” Remind them that learning something new takes time and practice, this will help with feelings of frustration.

Show them mistakes are okay and an important part of learning.

Help them express their emotions. Act it out through play. Also, share your emotions; they will be more likely to share theirs with you.

Have children draw their feelings or “dance it out”.

  • Season 13 of Takalani Sesame helps kids deal with their “big feelings” and airs on SABC 2 weekdays at 15:30.
  • The episodes are available in English on Mondays, Zulu on Tuesdays, Sotho on Wednesdays, Ndebele on Thursdays and Afrikaans on Fridays.
  • For more information, visit
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