After a lovely hot summer, September is coming around all too quickly and “Back to School” ads are everywhere – all urging parents to get organised with uniforms, lunchboxes, backpacks, notebooks and pens. There’s so much for parents to think about, it’s easy for us to forget how stressful it can be for children when they start a new school year.
Most children are slightly anxious returning back to school after the summer holidays – there are lots of new things for them to deal with – new teachers, classrooms, school mates not to mention the change in work tasks and challenges. So here are 5 top tips to try to help make it as easy as possible for everyone:-
- Get back to regular sleep times a few days before school starts – During the summer kids are often allowed to stay up later but you don’t want them to be tired out on their first day back. They might not be too happy with this, but getting back into a routine a few days before school actually starts can really help and make getting up for school on that first day easier for everyone.
- Stay Positive – When your child is feeling anxious, remind them that everyone will be feeling the same way, that it’s completely normal and it’s just the body’s way of getting ready for the new and exciting challenges ahead. Maybe tell them a positive story about when you started back at school – meeting a new best friend, learning exciting things, having a great teacher so that they go back to school embracing the new rather than being afraid of it.
- Create Routines – Starting back at school with early mornings and a full day of learning and activities can be exhausting. Creating routines at home, so that they know what is expected of them, makes their lives easy without them having to think. This could be simple things like a checklist for the morning – get dressed, eat breakfast, brush hair, clean teeth, get backpack/lunchbox etc. so children know what they have to do before they leave the house. Routines for evening are also good – homework/activities, dinner, play, bath, clean teeth, story, bed – they encourage a regular bedtime and incorporating daily reading also means you can easily sign off their reading diary.
- Encourage them to talk – During the first week back it’s good to encourage your children share their experiences – both good and bad – with you. It re-enforces the fact that you’re there for them and interested in what they’re doing. Some children are naturally chatty and want to discuss every detail whilst others may be less willing to open up – so don’t force them, just be there and available when they’re ready.
- Stimulate the grey matter – Researchers have shown that over the long holidays children suffer what they term “Summer Learning Loss”. To help your child prepare for starting back at school it’s a great idea to start that grey matter working again. This doesn’t have to be sitting down doing worksheets – there are plenty of fun ways to do this like playing face to face games. The children love the interaction of games and don’t realise that they are learning or getting back up to speed with mental maths, reading, vocabulary etc. In our recent summer PLYTIME sessions we visibly see children’s confidence start to return and grow as they remind themselves of the maths basics during the games. It’s great for kids to start the new school year feeling confident in their own ability.
However you prepare your child for school this year we hope you and they get off to a great start.