So they’re back to school. For some their first experience of school, for others a brand new school.
Many kids are going back with mixed feelings – sad that the summer of freedom has ended, glad to see friends they’ve missed during the break, excitement at getting to know new pupils and catch up on what everyone has been doing, resignation that they’ve got to get their heads down and do some study.
Apart from breathing a sigh of relief that you don’t have to entertain them every day, prise them away from their digital devices, get creative with meal plans or manage complicated child care, what can you do to help your kids get the most out of this term at school?
Don’t sympathise when they grumble. Instil a positive attitude by talking about the plus side of being back at school.
Encourage them to see things from the glass-half-full perspective and to see a positive in every challenging situation.
Set up habits
Start as you mean to go on. Teach them a leaving-for-school ‘checklist’ – books, lunch, sports kit, money for ?, mobile phone (if the school allows).
Get their timetables so you know which days they need sports gear or cooking items. Have a small white-board on the fridge for special items that you need to provide – so the ingredients for whatever they’re cooking, or an item for their next Maths class, examples to draw in Art etc.
Get them into the habit of putting any notes from school in a particular place as soon as they arrive home.
Plan lunchboxes in advance and prepare the night before. Older kids should be encouraged to prepare their own.
Establish a family support system
Create a sharing environment at home. Try to eat together every evening and make the conversation about everyone’s day. Good things and bad things that have happened.
Make sure your kids know that if they’re dealing with peer pressure, bullying or are struggling to keep up, then they can tell you and you won’t make judgments. Ask them what they’d like you to do – or not do – to help. Sometimes just discussing these issues is helpful in itself.
Mental health is as important as physical health. If they are showing signs of suffering from the pressure that is caused by something happening at school, there may a school counsellor they can talk to. Or you may even want to suggest booking them a few sessions with a private counsellor if they’d rather talk to a third party.
Wellbeing – for both kids and parents is important. In fact, one school has seen a noticeable improvement across the school community, in attendance and attitude – since running wellbeing sessions for parents and students.
Your home is where wellbeing is established and all these strategies will contribute to developing confident and positive young people.