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Parent and Carer Information 

Monty and The Big Jungle - A story about starting school 

Firstly, thank you for purchasing Monty and The Big Jungle and welcome to our information area. This page offers a separate space away from the fun of the book, with the focus here on support for you. We have information about navigating this big change, guidance through the playful activities, and steps for helping your child with their feelings, from an experienced children's therapist.

The therapeutic story

In the story, Monty is getting ready to start school, or nursery for the first time. The metaphor of a big jungle in comparison to his small island reflects the difference in environment, without even mentioning the word 'school'. Each book has a 'helper' character who supports the main character through the difficulty that they face, and in this story the helper is Monty's daddy.

 Daddy accepts Monty's mixed feelings and shows him a way of keeping their connection, even when they are not physically together. As the adults in a child's life, we can help them to navigate new experiences by hearing and accepting their feelings, whilst also conveying to them the message of safety. It is okay to feel nervous and do the thing. Together, you've got this.

So, what feelings can come up when starting school?

Starting school is a big step for the whole family. It is likely that you as the child's parent or carer, are experiencing your own flood of emotions around this. You might feel nervous about how your child will adapt, and you may also feel excited for your child, and perhaps for yourself, as school brings with it more time and opportunity for yourself, whether through work, rest or play. 

Your child is likely to have the same mix of emotions. Some children are very ready for the new challenge, and others may feel quite wary. Many, like Monty, are a mixture of both!

As the parent, we may worry how our child will cope in a setting away from us. Will they make friends? Can they sit and listen on the carpet? Who will help them if they feel sad?

For children, there is a lot of the unknown about this new adventure, The school can feel big and overwhelming and it may be the first time that they are away for a whole day.

The great thing is, that as the adults, we can be the thermostat in helping guide this new challenge. We can hold the temperature, as it were, and this security can allow the child to feel safe in our care. Read on to find out some top tips for a smooth transition into school. 

In writing this interactive story, my aim was to provide an acknowledgement of this big feeling. When an emotion is validated, we become more regulated as our body steps out of the survival modes of fight, flight, or freeze. It also felt important to provide the child, and adult, with a tool that they can use after reading the book. I really like this strategy because the invisible smile is contained in the hand, and can never be dropped or lost. It also involves the sensory memory, making it even more effective. 

Emotions at Play has connection at it's very core, and reading a story together is a wonderful way of connecting with a child. You will have seen us talk about ‘the magic recipe’ here at Emotions at Play, and I would like to invite you to think about the relationship between yourself and your child as the container for this recipe. As you explore the book together, you will find plenty of ingredients to add to your pot, but the key part of the magic is you.

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How do we use
the book?

Top tips

Let 'Rags' be your guide- Our trusty mascot is on hand to guide you through the story. Rags will lead you to fun games, experiments and crafty ideas to bring the story from the page and into your child’s world.

'I wonder' statements - Often used in therapeutic conversation in place of 'why'questions,

'I wonder'statements are much softer and don't force a response. Our young people do not always have the answer to 'why', but 'I wonder if..' brings about a shared curiosity and a feeling of being on the journey together. It's only a slight change of words yet it can make a real difference. 

The child always leads - A really important piece in Emotions at Play is that the child leads and the adult follows. Play is a child's natural mode of expression, so if we lead, we simply take over the conversation and suppress our child. Our books are filled with activities and ideas to ignite your child's curiosity. They are offered, but never forced. 

Pick the right time - Make sure that your are emotionally regulated within yourself before starting the story. If you are feeling stressed or are trying to sandwich it in between activities, you won't be able to fully focus on your child. Take time to breathe and settle so that you are in an emotional state that will support your child. Put your mobile phone on silent to allow this special time to be just between you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are lots of fun and playful ways that we can help prepare our children for starting nursery and school.​


 

In your book, you will find art, craft, science, games and sensory activities guided by our mascot, Rags. 

  • Arts - Drawing, painting, sketching; all wonderful ways for us to convert what is going on inside us to the outside.

 

  • Sciences - Science is a great way to get curious about our experiences. Experimenting with ideas and problem solving creates neural pathways to help us to understand.

 

  • Games - The opposite to a passive learning experience, games often involve movement and provide a kinesthetic way of thinking.

 

  • Sensory - Involving the five senses of sight, touch, taste, hearing, and smell, provides a multi sensory experience beyond the written word. The natural world is a great place to start.

 

  • Crafts- Crafting is a lovely way to make a thought, character or feeling into a more concrete form that we can see and interact with. The story can be lifted from the pages through a creation.

 

  • Connection - Our stories and resources are all designed to put the relationship first and connection at the starting point. Children need their adults in order to self-regulate, grow and learn about the world and their place in it.

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  • Child led - The foundation of play therapy is that the child leads the play. This is because we know that play is how our children communicate their inner world. Through child led play, children learn that their inner world is heard and understood, and that they are valued and respected humans.

How can I help my child through this new experience?

Get prepared

Many months before, you  introduce the new experience through books (First win!), Children's TV programmes that introduce starting school, family members who have recently started school or nursery, and through general conversation, making it a part of life.

Play games

We can help support our child's readiness for school by playing fun games that will help them to develop the skills they will need as they grow. 'Simon Says' type games can help with impulse control, and following instruction, and I Spy can introduce speech sounds and letters. You could play some popular playground games together to develop resilience around winning and losing, and problem solving  and creative thinking can be built by activities as simple as creating a structure from the recycling pile!

Have a picnic

Will your child be having a packed lunch at school? Get them used to using their lunch box and opening packets by having some picnics in the park - great excuse!

Allow Choices

School can represent a reduction in free choice. We might want to spend the morning on the swings but with the start of school brings a sense of conformity to the planned day. This is hard, but we can help counterbalance this by providing the child with a sense of choice and autonomy within this.

'We need to leave for school. Shall we spot red cars on the way or green?' 

Consider a visual plan 

Children feel emotionally safe when they know what is going to happen. If your child is starting with part time nursery or school, or collection times vary throughout the week, you could create a visual timetable together.

Tell me more about
the activities and the
benefits of play

Tip from Rags! Juggling kids, work and other commitments can be really difficult. If you find that your 'to do' list is buzzing around your head, try visualising popping your thoughts onto a shelf to deal with later. Your mind will be clear and you will be able to better focus on your child. 

Thoughts such as 'should' and 'need to' can be very persistent so if they come back, just pop them back up on the shelf. Really stubborn ones might even need a box or lidded jar!

Rags Activity Guidance

Craft - Just like Monty's Island, you have a home and a neighbourhood. What is yours like, and what do you have around it? How far is your school and how will you get there? Let’s make a map! 

4. Sensory - Noisy hide and seek. “Make a sound!” Use your senses as you search for each other, in a twist to the classic game. What funny noise can you make? Can your adult find you? Swap over!

5. Rags asks - Have you ever had 2 feelings at once?

6. Science- Try this experiment! take it in turns to draw a shape on each others palm. Is it a square? a circle? maybe a triangle?

7.Game - Pillow Islands. Set up a maze using pillows or towels on the floor. Use your imagination- where will you go next? Careful past the alligators! This game is all about connection and having fun.

8 Art - Sharing hands - Draw around a hand with your adult and decorate them however you like for the other person. Maybe you will use your favourite colours or patterns, Perhaps you’ll draw a happy face like Monty's daddy?

Visit the dedicated parents/carers page to read our top tips, learn about how Rags' playful ideas can help your child to process the story, and get support and guidance on helping your child through their rainbow of emotions.

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