To explore our attitudes towards change at the start of the new school year
by The Revd Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To explore our attitudes towards change at the start of a new school year.
Preparation and materials
- If possible, have a boxed pair of new shoes and, in contrast, a well-worn battered pair.
- Welcome everybody back to school. Make special reference to new children and introduce new members of staff.
- Invite the children to recall their 'back to school' preparations. Do many have new shoes?
Continue by encouraging everyone to reflect how they feel at the start of the new school year. Are some excited and proud to be in a new class? Are some feeling gloomy that the holidays are over? At the same time, are some worried, nervous, and feeling rather uncomfortable? Encourage open responses and affirm the tensions experienced at times of change.
- Open the shoe-box and suggest that our experience of having new shoes can help us to understand how we feel at times of change. Explore what the children like and dislike about wearing new shoes. On the positive side, shiny new shoes can make us feel proud. New shoes are a sign that the children have grown! The downside is that at first new shoes can feel strange and uncomfortable. They can also sometimes be difficult to put on, especially when we first learn to tie laces! It was so much easier with the old pair. (Produce the old pair and hold at arm's length - phew!) Pause before exclaiming, 'But these were new once.'
- Invite the children to reflect that over a period of time our feet become used to new shoes. Before long the new shoes become as comfortable as the old ones! Refer back to the children's feelings at the start of a new term. They may feel uncomfortable and wonder whether they will ever fit into their new class, but that feeling will pass. It's quite normal (for adults as well as children!) to feel this way when a new start is made.
- Encourage the children to think how they can support and help one another to adjust to change. Friendship and understanding can be important. Faith in God can also play its part for some people, who believe that whatever else changes, God's love for them does not. Introduce the song, 'One more step along the world I go'. It speaks of 'travelling from the old to the new' together, and with God.
Time for reflection
At the start of another year in the life of our school,
help us to enter into the new opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
We thank you that we do not travel life's journey alone,
but together with others,
and that you promise to guide and keep us
along every step of the way.
New shoes feel strange and stiff, uncomfortable and unbending,
but new shoes soon become so comfy you don't even notice them.
The new year can feel strange, uncomfortable, uncertain and unfriendly,
but soon it's not new any more, just normal, and you stop thinking about it.
'One more step' (Come and Praise, 47)
Publication date: September 2003 (Vol.5 No.9) Published by SPCK, London, UK.