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Back to school: twice the fun

Posted: 10am 25 Jan 2021

When school returns this week, the Zinyemba family will be celebrating the start of a new chapter for twins and Prep pupils Tanya and Tawana, and the final year of primary school for their brother Batsi.

The youngsters will also have sister Rutendo, in Year 4, looking out for them as they explore Mango Hill State School.

Principal Tracy Egan says they will be among about 230 pupils across 10 classes to start Prep this year – the school’s biggest Prep cohort since it opened in 2012.

The total school population has grown from 200 pupils to almost 1500 in that time.

Ms Egan expects the first day and first week to be similar to previous years, with added hygiene and social distancing requirements, and the school is encouraging parents to be involved in those memorable first moments.

“It’s really important to enjoy that first day with their child,” Ms Egan says.

She says the school held a meet-the-teacher afternoon on Friday for pupils and their parents to ease first-day anxiety.

Her tip for parents helping their children navigate the first few days of school is: “remain calm, be positive and celebrate. It’s an exciting time to let your child go and trust another person with them all day. Children react to how their parents are feeling. Work with the teachers.”

‘It’s a big year for us’

Tanya and Tawana’s mother Mugowe Zinyemba says she and husband Shadreck will continue a tradition started with their older children – both bringing the children to school and settling them in.

“When the bell goes, we walk away and go home,” Mugowe says.

“I’m going to have my nails done and have a nice brunch.”

She always sheds a tear or two and said this time was likely to be the same.

“It is a big year for us,” she says.

The girls are looking forward to joining their siblings at big school, meeting new friends and enjoying the playground, which they tried out for these photos taken last week.

“They are excited about school work and have made a few friends already when they came in for transition,” Mugowe says.

“I think they are looking forward to meeting other kids and making new friends.

“We have been talking about school more, driving past school and looking at their uniforms and trying them on.”

While they will walk through the gate together, the girls will be in different classes when the bell rings.

“I think Tanya will be fine. Tawana might be a bit nervous but once she has settled in, she will be fine,” Mugowe says.

Tips for parents

Triple P parenting experts want parents to put emotional wellbeing on the back-to-school checklist.

  1. Help your child make good choices so they are prepared for a new school environment and can respond to peer pressure
  2. Take care of yourself the best you can
  3. Make sure your child knows you are ready to talk
  4. Show you are listening
  5. Be truthful in answering children’s questions
  6. Set and maintain routines
  7. Take notice of behaviour you like - use praise and positive attention to encourage it
  8. Help children learn to tolerate uncertainty
  9. Reach out and stay connected
  10. Focus on quality family time.

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