I hate to burst the summer holiday bubble, but the start of the new term and the new academic year is just around the corner. And whilst that may be a cause for mild celebration for some parents, there’s no doubt that for many children and their families, it can be an enormously stressful time that throws up more than a few challenges.
Facing new challenges
Apart from the usual stresses and strains of getting back into the school routine, there are also particular flashpoints in your child’s school career – starting primary school, changing school, SATS, starting secondary school, the beginning of GCSEs or Nationals and of course year 11. So while you may be thinking it’s just another term or year, the challenges ahead for your children as they make these different transitions can be very intimidating.
Getting the new term off to a flying start
But it’s not all gloom and doom, because there’s lots you can do to help your child. And with that in mind, each year, at about this time, we publish our list of tips and advice to help you swing back into the school routine as smoothly and pain free as possible.
Dealing with back to school anxiety
Every child deals with nerves and anxiety differently. Some may openly vocalise things, some become quiet and bottle things up, others start to exhibit disruptive or challenging behaviour. Children often find it hard to articulate or just don’t understand the feelings they’re having.
The key point to remember is that it’s natural to feel nervous and it’s equally important to validate your child’s feelings. Start a conversation. Ask them how they feel about the new term, what they’re excited about and what they’re nervous about. Talk to them about making new friends or tell them about positive experiences you had at school (or ask an older sibling to help).
Explain that nerves are natural and try and remove the “unknown” factor. Perhaps arrange a walk around the school just before term starts, get together with any children you know who’ll be at the same school, talk your child through the school day and routine. You might even give them some suggestions of how to start a conversation and what to say.
Dealing with your nerves
And don’t forget to deal with your own anxiety and stress. I deal with getting organised below (and there can be nothing more stressful than being disorganised) but if you are anxious or stressed about the beginning of term, you can bet that your child will pick up on it! Get organised, talk through any anxiety with your partner or friends or if you’re really struggling, get professional help.
It’s important to create a home environment that is positive and excited about all the possibilities of a new term.
Getting organised and making going back to school fun
It happens to us all – over the summer holidays good habits and routines tend to slip and late nights and later mornings, unhealthy snacks and erratic mealtimes all become the norm. You may even find yourself wondering how you’ll ever manage to be dressed, fed and out of the door in time for the school bell.
The solution to this in the main part lies in getting organised and there’s huge potential to make this part of going back to school a really positive experience for your child.
You’ll probably need to make lists of what needs to be done but get your children involved in this. Don’t just present them with their new school bag and lunch box. Take them shopping. Make it fun. Spend time in the stationery department letting them choose items that will help them get organised – a brightly coloured lever arch file for all their homework, dividers, coloured pens etc.
Build in a treat during the shopping day, whether it’s lunch, a trip to the cinema or park when you’ve finished or buying them a lucky mascot of their choice for them to take to school on the first day.
Make being organised easy
Once you’ve got all the equipment and uniform that you need, start getting creative. Get the children involved in designing their own checklists and reward charts or systems. Stickers and high lighter pens always seem to be a big hit for ‘checklisters’ and the lists can include what they need to do every morning and evening after school. Encourage reward charts to include more than just sweets or time on the Xbox.
Some families have a designated launch pad – i.e. an area of the home which is where you place anything that is needed for the next school day – lunch boxes, PE bags, school bags, homework etc. Other families find having a designated homework area works really well too and at the very least your child needs somewhere they can work that is quite and comfortable. Getting them to create their own desk area can help make them feel quite important and take their homework more seriously.
Creating new habits
Getting organised is all part of creating a good routine! Research shows it only takes 21 days to create a new habit and good habits can set your child up for a lifetime not just the new term. Start having at least one family meal a day as you approach the end of the holidays, start bringing bed time a little earlier and as the new term starts, consider what after school routine would be helpful?
Perhaps the first hour after school is always dedicated to having a healthy snack, doing homework and then having a kick round with a ball outside. Whatever your routine, do it regularly enough and it just becomes a habit that your children don’t even think about!
Building their confidence
Most parents start the school holidays with the intention of ensuring at least some learning takes place during the summer months, whether that’s daily reading, some written activities or trips to museums. But keeping up a schedule of summer learning can be hard. Children can be resistant, you’re probably busy and before you know it, September looms and your children haven’t picked up a book since July! Eek!
If you read our blog regularly, you’ll have seen our post about summer learning loss and the impact this can have. The bottom line is that it’s not easy for your child to feel confident about the beginning of term if they’re worried about the academic side. And that’s the same, whether they’ve struggled last year or whether they’ve excelled and now feel under pressure to keep up the high standard.
But it’s not too late to get help with this and we thoroughly recommend you enrol your child for some private tuition. Our learning programmes offer a really fun, easy and affordable way to build up your child’s confidence and ability and to catch up on any summer learning loss.
We have a thorough knowledge of the national curriculum in the UK, Scotland and Wales and where your child needs to be when they go back to school. We create a learning programme specifically for your child, building on the areas they already excel at and or supporting them in areas which might be more of a struggle.
The other benefits of tuition programmes
Apart from the obvious benefits of getting your child help with the curriculum, enrolling your child with MagiKats gives them a chance to meet new people and work in a new environment, which in itself helps prepare them for the new term.
Our tuition also helps build all sorts of other skills such as problem solving and reasoning skills as well as helping them get back into the routine of both learning and enjoying the learning process. The result is their confidence soars and they begin to look forward to the new term. It also gives you a little bit of valuable time back to start sewing on those never-ending name tags!
The first day of term and building on a confident start
Mascots, little good luck messages left in their lunch box or the promise of a treat at the end of the first day all help make a promising start to the term. Keep up the dialogue about how the school day went (including what went well and what didn’t) and keep up with the reward chart.
Ask your children what they fancy doing with their friends and get some dates in your diary. You might arrange a ‘back to school’ party, half term picnic (indoors if necessary) or a Halloween sleep-over. Socialising and making new friends is one of the most stressful aspects of the new school year, so this gives your children a chance to strengthen new friendships, as well as giving them something to look forward to.
Back to school should be an exciting time for your child, and full of potential. A little bit of planning and organisation can make what could be a very stressful event, a success. Private maths and English tuition remains one of the most effective ways to build your child’s confidence, help them achieve their potential and get them ready for all that the new academic year brings!