Pathways toward happy schooling

“IF all prep children take a play-based anti-anxiety program, the transition into Year 1 would be “very easy”, Dr Paula Barrett says.

The developer of Fun Friends, a program delivered at Pathways Health and Research Centre at West End, said it helped build social, emotional and coping skills.

“I strongly believe that if every prep child in Queensland has the chance to do this program, it will make the transition to Year 1 very  easy,” Dr Barrett said.

Fun Friends was also aimed at preventing anxiety in preschool, prep and Year 1 children and reducing bullying.

“Research shows as many as 20 per cent of preschool children show signs of emotional and behavioural disturbance,” Dr Barrett said.

“We know one in five kids is going to be prone to anxiety, and by mid primary school a percentage of these will be showing signs – social anxiety, separation anxiety, generalised anxiety, stomach aches,  headaches, difficulty getting to sleep or early-morning waking.”

Dr Barrett said if those  children didn’t get help, by the time they were 11 or 12, they could be depressed “because anxiety in primary school is the greatest risk factor for depression in late  adolescence”.

Dr Barrett carried out a successful trial of Fun Friends in 28 state and private preschools in 2005.

It is an off-shoot of her  Friends for Life program.”

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