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Countdown to a New School Year

Posted on 15 August 2016

While the English can enjoy being on holiday for a further three weeks, Scottish pupils return to school next week ending the summer break.  Footloose and fancy free for six weeks our job as parents is to help them switch from holiday to term time mode in a way that gets them excited and engaged about going back to school.

We’ve rounded up advice from the experts on how best to achieve this.

Coping with back to school blues?

Do you remember that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach thinking about going back to school?   The anticipation can trigger a range of emotions in your child.  They may feel nervous, excited at seeing their friends again or apprehensive about their new class, especially if starting a new school.

Blue children often show signs of feeling sad, sensitive, irritable or annoyed.  Help by creating opportunities to listen to them.  Ask them how they are feeling and talk through worries and anxieties.

Some children will want quiet space to process their feelings, whilst respecting this provide opportunities for them to talk with others such as family meal times. Big up your child’s new teacher or school to create a sense of excitement. Enthuse older children about their schools merit-reward system.

Nothing puts them and us in a better mood than having something to look forward to. Plan your next family day out together or if summer activities haven’t bled finances dry your next holiday.

The above tips apply to us too.  As parents we also experience mixed feelings.  On the one hand having the children back at school makes working life easier on the other we miss the closeness that grows between us through having them around more.  The spectre of supervising homework and juggling school / clubs / friendships can loom large. 

Realign body clock to school time

After weeks of late bedtimes and morning lie-ins getting up early for school can be a shock to the system.  The week before school starts gradually bring the time your child goes to bed in line with the time they go to bed on a school night.  Put them to bed 15 minutes earlier each night and wake them 15 minutes earlier the following morning. 

Check equipment and uniform

Get your child off to a good start at school by ensuring they have the uniform and equipment their school expects them to have.  Never one to miss a shopping opportunity my daughter has established a tradition of shopping for school essentials interspersed with regular coffee / cake and lunch breaks.

I can offer no comfort with regard to labeling.  It’s a dull job that has to be done. 

Turn lunchbox drudgery into a food fiesta

Oh the tyranny of the school lunch box! It sits in the kitchen each evening demanding to be filled with nutritious, brain-enhancing food that your child might actually eat the next day.  

As if that pressure wasn’t enough, the government has issued teachers with rules to carry out lunchbox inspections.  Contraband will be confiscated.  Take some of the pressure off yourself by asking your child to devise healthy lunchbox menus .  Better still, teach older children how to make their own.

Prevent the deadly brain summer slide

Your child will have learnt things during the holiday that can’t be taught in a classroom environment.  It’s also important their brains have a rest from the stimulation they experience at school.  At the same time research shows that long summer holidays have a detrimental effect on children’s academic performance with many forgetting some of what they have learnt.

Maths is a skill where the phrase “use it or loose it” applies.  There are many fun activities to create a maths filled summer from playing cards, to planning a trip.  Websites such as Mathletics or the Khan Academy enable children to practice maths skills in a humorous way. 

Many schools offer voluntary reading schemes run in association with the local library designed to develop reading and comprehension skills.

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