Back to School Survival Guide
The long Christmas holidays are drawing to a close and for most this means back to school and the beginning of a new school year. The transition away from the relaxation of summer holidays when alarms are turned off, school lunches no longer needing to be packed and the thought of homework and deadlines is a distant memory can be difficult for both parents and kids alike.
Let’s face it, for many returning to school means getting up early, concentration and completing school work and homework, and less time for the activities we prefer to do. However, school also provides opportunities that may not exist during the school holidays. The return to school often means more access to friends and socialisation, the ability to participate and attend extra-curricular activities, school camps and excursions, and yes, even the opportunity to learn new things.
Going back to school after weeks of fun and relaxation is never easy, but kids aren’t the only ones who struggle with it. For some parents it also means back to work and the 9-5 grind and may also be experiencing a range of emotions around the end of the holidays and the beginning of the year.
It can be helpful for families to begin the transition back to the school routine a few days or a week before school commences to help everyone manage the transition and understand expectations. Here are some helpful tips to manage the end of the holidays and ensure everyone is prepared and excited for the year ahead:
- Get back into your sleep routine.To help eradicate those stressful school mornings, set up a regular bedtime and morning time routine to help prepare your child for school. Begin your usual school sleep routine about a week or so before school starts.
- Shop for school supplies. To get your child excited about starting a new grade, shop for supplies together. Allow them to pick out their own backpack, lunchbox, etc. This is a great way to give them a little bit of responsibility too!
- Re-establish school routines. Have your child practice getting back into the rhythm of their daily school routine. You can do this by having them wake up at the same time every day, and eat around the same time they would at school. Start returning to regular eating habits and reducing the treats (and sugar!) that have crept in with Christmas treats and holidays.
- Encourage kids to set goals and take responsibility. Encouraging children to set goals and take responsibility for the upcoming school year is a great way to get in them in the right frame of mind. Research shows that kids who participate in setting learning goals are consistently more motivated and take learning more seriously.
- Set up a homework. Sit down with your child and together designate a time and place where he can do his homework each day. This can be somewhere quiet like in the den, or even in the kitchen while you are preparing dinner. Make sure to choose a time where you are available in case your child needs your help.
- Prepare for the unexpected. Working parents know that it can be difficult to find a sitter when your child is sick. Before school even begins, it’s a good idea to have a plan already lined up in case your child is unwell and can’t attend school or you get that phone call home from the nurse saying your child is ill.
- Make an after-school game plan. Make a plan for after-school activities and extra-curricular as these will all begin again when school commences and days and times may change with the new school year.
- Turn off the Technology. For a lot of children the Christmas school holidays is filled with endless video games, TV and electronics. Children are usually in shock when they begin school and realise that six hours of their day is going to spent learning and not playing games and watching TV. Ease your child into the learning process by turning off the technology and reverting back to technology limits that apply during the school term.
- Get organised. The best way to prepare for back to school time is to be organised. With school comes a massive amount of paperwork which can consume your household. Designate a spot in your house for homework, permission slips, and any other school-related papers. Lunches are also best prepared the night before, and you can even get the kids involved by asking them what they’d like to eat and see if they’d like to help you chop vegetables, prepare sandwiches and organise the kitchen once you’re finished.
- Positivity! Also keep in mind that kids are often quick to pick up on our attitudes towards things, so try to speak positively about school and emphasise the positive aspects of it, such as their friends and teachers or the cool things they’ll have a chance to learn.