It’s time to get organised and think about school again! Here are a few tips to think about, I hope they help with the transition!
1. Routine, routine, routine – We know how good it is to let the family sleep in or stay up late when they are on holidays from school. But how do we pull it back and make sure kids are getting enough sleep and not exhausted going back to school. Perhaps that first week or two will be tough anyway but I’ve always believed in adjusting back over time. So a week or so before school starts, waking your children earlier and earlier in the morning and try to get them earlier into bed at night. This is not easy when you have strong willed pre-teens or teens! But be strong, they will thank you on the first day back! You know what’s best for them. I often spend time with them at night in bed, cuddling, having a chat.. making sure they are in bed, winding down. I sometimes even read my book with them in their bed (while they’re reading) if they’re too old for bedtime stories. Make sure the screens have been off for an hour at least (some studies say 2 hours) before they try to sleep.. otherwise they will be wired. A guided meditation on you tube is always very relaxing and helps too.
2. Reduce screen time – ah yes this again! Screen time can really affect children’s attention span, patience and social skills. Since Covid the problems have escalated because we relied on screens to keep us sane in that crazy period! children are now happily entertained by their screens instead of being with other kids. If your kids have had too much screen time and not enough socialising during the summer break – get them more used to being physically around kids – try to organise play dates with their friends before starting back. If it’s a new school all the more reason to try find someone they can meet up with, or be introduced to, before hand. You may have to do some work on your end, to find someone!
3. Talk about school and the new school year (without transferring your own anxieties onto your child). Is there anything exciting / worrying them? New school/ teachers/ new class mates / yard time? Is there anything causing worrying thoughts or anxiety? A little one to one time with each child at this time of year is great, if you can manage it. Especially after their fist day or two back. Are the worries they are having real or imagined? Is there anything you can do about them? Do you need to take action and get the school/ teacher to help. Or does your child just need the tools to cope with them if they are part of life for example worrying about who they will sit beside. Ask them about their inner talk.. what are they telling themselves and it is helpful or not?
4. Homework – a lot of children dread going back to doing homework. If you possibly can – make where they do their homework a nice relaxing space. (Kids can get over stimulated very easily when they return to school) In a bedroom, office or kitchen.. turn off tv’s and radios, put screens away, make them something to eat or drink that they love. I know a mother who makes the kids hot chocolate when they sit down to do homework. She stays close by to help them or sits down at the table with them for while. If you are working then what can you do to make sure they have what they need? Do their homework later in the evening when you’re free? Or get someone else on side to encourage a positive environment, a child minder or who ever looks after your child. If they typically need some help at this time, obviously don’t make them do it alone.
5. Choices – get them involved in the preparation to go back to School – where possible ask your child would they like to pick out some new pens/ pencils/ pearers/ pencil case/ notebooks etc a trip to the stationary shop. Or get some nice new colourful labels with their names on it to stick on books/ copies/ pencils / pencil cases. Or allow them to choose a new lunch box or drink bottle. If you don’t have time order online but involve them in the preparation even if it’s just choosing colouring pencils that you have to buy anyway. Also if money allows offer them a reward for getting to bed on time or doing homework for a week. This can be choosing a place to get a treat like an ice-cream shop or going out for a meal. Maybe it could be just bringing them to a playground or to visit their cousin or grandparent. It doesn’t have to cost money.
6. Separation and worries – One of my children was always very reluctant to leave me especially on the first day back to school after any break. We agreed that we would wake earlier and have extra hugs and cuddles every morning and then we would draw a heart on her palm, and she would touch her face with the palm of her hand when she missed me, I told her this was a special way to feel my love when I wasn’t with her.
If you are concerned about an anxious child returning to School here is another article that I’ve written previously that may help. And another about starting a new school.
Best of luck going back to School – if anyone needs one to one life coaching please reach out to us at the Confidence Clinic. This can be face to face in Stilorgan, Palmerstown, Naas or Skerries & on-line. We have also just released weekly classes and a mini Halloween camp in Skerries.
The Confidence Clinic