It’s that time again!
The school holidays can be such a relaxing time for families; no routines, no early morning drop-offs, and no homework! When it’s time for school to go back after the summer holidays, parents play a key role in setting the kids up for success. They can influence how their children feel about starting back at school and this, in turn, can affect their achievement throughout the year. It is beneficial when parents work with teachers and set some ground rules and healthy routines for the new school year.
Young people need routine and sound sleep so if bedtime has become a bit flexible during the break, it is a good idea to get the kids into the habit of going to bed and getting up early at least a week before school starts. That way it is not such a shock when school starts and they will cope better with the inevitable hot weather and tiredness that ensues.
Ensure that any school supplies such as pens, pencils, books, bags, drink bottles etc. are purchased well in advance to avoid any meltdowns on the first day because your child doesn’t have the right book or pen that they need.
Check uniforms for fit and appearance as the kids tend to grow over the summer and what fitted at the end of last year may not be suitable for the new year.
Listen to them
Kids of any age may feel anxious about going back to school so this is a good time to practice your listening skills and validate their feelings. Avoid jumping in to save them by offering suggestions instead ask them what they could do to help themselves feel better or deal with the problem.
Listen to their ideas and ask if you can help in any way. Conversations where you listen to your child and give them the opportunity to problem solve, show that you value what they have to say, and demonstrate faith that they can solve their own problems. When kids feel empowered to deal with their problems they will become more self-reliant and not always expect you or someone else to fight their battles.
Get to know the teachers
Build relationships with your child’s teachers by being friendly and approachable, introducing yourself, volunteering to help at the school or in the classroom if you are available, and responding to notes and attending information evenings.
To foster a positive outlook about school, speak encouragingly about the teachers and the other students. Model a positive attitude to your children when in conversation with others; children pick up on your feelings and learn more from what you practice than what you preach.
Make an appointment
If you need to speak with the teacher privately, make a time to meet with him or her rather than just turning up at the beginning or end of the school day. Teachers are very busy and often have meetings before and after school as well as preparation and planning to do.
Unless what you have to say is urgent, organise a time that is suitable for both of you to discuss, this way the teacher will be prepared and be able to give you her full attention without students interrupting.
Parents may feel that what happens at home doesn’t affect a child at school, but if the teacher is aware of any changes or disruptions to home life, they will be more likely to notice and address any change in the student. Even something as simple as a child not sleeping well can impact on their behaviour and consequently their learning.
When teachers know about any problems, they can make allowances for student behaviour and also work with you to address any issues.
Attend information nights
These are a good opportunity to meet other parents as well as the teacher and you will be more fully informed about what is happening in your child’s class.
If you don’t understand any of the information, ask for clarification. Schools work with a wide variety of students and families and not all have the same needs. Schools try very hard to accommodate the various needs of their community, and that doesn’t necessarily mean the same approach for every student. Respect the professional judgment of the teachers and work together with them for the benefit of your child and other young people.