As we fast approach the end of August, it is time to prepare both our children and ourselves for going back to school. The relaxed days and bright evenings of no homework are fewer. With only one full week to go for most, it is time to get things in place so the first week back, as well as the rest of the term, can run smoothly.
We offer ’10 ways’ to make a smooth transition from summertime to the new school year:
- Ask everyone, including yourself, what you need to do in the next week to be ready for the new school year. Just some general clearing and sorting can help you feel prepared for the next term, such as cleaning school bags, finding school things, sorting lunch boxes, coming up with ideas for lunch boxes, or tidying bedrooms.
- Talk about what you all enjoyed the most this summer and then talk about what there is to look forward to in autumn. It is easy to get a little down as summer comes to a close so talk to your children about positive happenings that await them in autumn such as birthdays, seeing more of their friends, taking part in hobbies or activities, or even just wearing nice, new school clothes.
- This weekend should be the last weekend of late nights to bed and relaxed routines. From Monday onwards it would be good to adopt an earlier bedtime; not necessarily the bedtime you have for school nights but close to it. Children need to get into the routine of settling down at night for bed. Enjoy some calm and relaxing family time like movie evenings or board games.
- You will be used to more relaxed mornings so getting children out the door in time on school mornings can cause a lot of stress. It is important to practice getting up and out early again. Set yourself some morning tasks next week like a trip to the library or park. If children get up early then they will be ready for bed earlier too.
- Talk with each other about what the week will be like once school is back on. Who will bring children to school and who will collect them? What will the homework plan be? Draw up a plan of afterschool activities. Plan treats every month and set clear goals and boundaries for each member of the family.
- Think about increasing your child’s independence by giving them more responsibilities next term. Think about what worked well last term and what didn’t. Parents need to be clear about what they can and should do for children. You cannot teach children to be responsible if you do everything for them.
- If you have a child starting school for the first time, take time to sit and talk with them about what to expect. Don’t overwhelm them with information as you can increase anxiety by over-talking these matters. Little and often may be best. Show them where the school is and get them to try on their uniforms if they have one. Help them to understand what their day will be like. Work with them around managing their clothes, toileting and feeding themselves. This will support them and help to build their confidence.
- Older children may worry that they will have forgotten everything they learned last year and could be worried about the work load coming up. Revise a little with them in a fun way. Support them to do some reading and fun learning activities. Help them to see that they haven’t forgotten and that they can brush up quickly on things they have learned by reading over old copies.
- For exam children talk with them about stress and recognising stress. Help them to develop coping skills from early on. Help them to learn good study techniques and be organised in their study plan. Start early, don’t leave it until the mock exams. On day one the teachers will be talking about exams so they need to be prepared.
- Take deep breaths and get ready for another fun filled year of learning and look forward to the Halloween break. You are a team, a family, so work together to achieve success and happiness this school year.
This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.