Going back to school after a long lazy summer can be a major shock to the system. What can we do as parents to ease our offspring back into some kind of routine?
RESET THE BODY CLOCK
I’m sure it’s been a real treat, relaxing the bedtime routine for your children over the holidays, not having to worry about the late meal out or the what time the film finishes, allowing them that indulgent holiday lie-in the following day, but how do you get them back into any kind of routine without the arguments? It’s a tough one, but if you want said child to be at all responsive when returning to school, this one really needs to be cracked!
Here are a few of my own tried & tested tips…
- Shift the To-Bed and Wake-Up times a couple of weeks before they return to school, it’s less of a shock.
- Calculate the average time your child needs to sleep, easily done with my own teenage son, always grumpy when lacking sleep! Then try to ensure they are getting the necessary number of hours sleep a good week or so before getting back into the routine. Encourage them to turn off electrical devices, phones, tv and computer games, a good hour before bed, allowing them time to mentally switch off.
- Don’t rush them in the morning, make getting up worth it, allow some time for them to watch tv or txt their friend for the first couple of days before going back to school, but wake them at the time they will need to be getting up for school a week or so before, setting a pattern, allowing them to tire earlier at night.
- The last night of the holidays are usually
taken up with the chaos of organisation of school uniform, books, bags etc. Allow for this chaos and excitement, it’s not a big deal if they are half an hour late to bed.
MAKE SOME ORGANISED SPACES
- Bedrooms! Mess, chaos, toys, broken bits of lego?
- In theory organising your child’s room will help organise the mind. I failed at this every year, but persevered regardless! Encourage them to find a place in their room which can be organised, yes, a place to do homework! Spend some time with your child encouraging them to create that space themselves, allowing them to fill it with just the things they will need to help focus the mind. A desk with new ruler, pens, notepads, free from toys and unnecessary clutter.
- DON’T organise this area for them, what works for you may not necessarily work for them. They have to feel this is their space not a forced corner in which you want them to study!
DEAL WITH RESISTANCE
“I don’t want to go back to school!” An idyllic summer spent, messing around on the beach, doing fun stuff with your friends, pretty much when you want, only to be marched back to the school gates and the classroom at the end of the holidays with a heavy back pack full of books can be a daunting thought for any child, but it needn’t be.
- Remind your child of the things he/she enjoyed in the previous term, the friends he made, the cool teacher who made the lessons so much fun, the great school trip. Small reminders usually do the trick.
- If however there are more worrying signs that your child is reluctant to return to school, gently ask key questions, what it is that’s troubling them and address each issue as they arise, don’t ignore the signs and get irritated by their lack of enthusiasm, we all lead very hectic lives these days but make time to listen and understand your child’s concerns.
- For younger children, why not organise some play days to reconnect with friends who you know are going to be in his/her class when they return to school, then arrange to meet them at the school gates so they can go into school together on their first day back.
- And last but by no means least, reassure them that the first few weeks back is all about playing catch up as everyone has had a break, the teachers included.