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15 January, 2019

Banish the Back to School Blues

A new year also means that school holidays are coming to an end soon and it’s almost time to go back to school.

This can be both a stressful and exciting time for parents and children. Children may be anxious about a new school environment, or a new teacher, and simultaneously excited about the prospect of new opportunities and seeing their friends again after the holidays. Parents on the other hand may be concerned about getting back into the school routine after weeks filled with late nights and sleep ins, and whether or not their child’s learning has slipped back over the break.

Various studies have shown that the “Summer Slide” is a legitimate concern for parents and teachers and is most commonly relates to reading levels dropping after an extended break from engaged learning. There is even some evidence that this slide can affect multiple learning areas.

So, what is to be done to avoid the the “Summer Slide” and the inevitable craziness of the first few weeks back at school?

Here are some suggestions to getting the new year off to a smooth start.

It is not too late to reduce the effects of the “Summer Slide”.

Take your child to the local library and let them choose a few books to read during the last week or two of holidays. You can read the books aloud to younger children or ask your child to read aloud to you. Suggest that your child begin keeping a book log, or record of all the books they will read in the new year. This is a fun way for children to keep track of their own reading.

Make sure you have everything you will need for the new term.

The new year usually entails the purchase of new uniforms, stationery, books, bags, lunch boxes etc. To avoid additional stress, try and make sure that this is done well in advance of the new term beginning. Take your child with you and allow them to choose some of the new things they will need for school, this can help your child feel more comfortable about the new school year.    

Help your child get back into the school routine before school starts.

The hardest part of going back to school for children is getting back into the routine. After weeks of late nights and lazy days, it is often a shock to the system when that alarm goes off for the first day back. You can help by gradually getting your child to go to bed earlier and getting up a little earlier each day until they reach the time they would need to wake up for a school day. This gradual change will make the transition back into the school routine a little easier for everyone.

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Plan a school schedule.

Sit down with your child and plan for the school term. Try using a year planner to mark off important school events or school holidays. Talk to your child about what time they have to be ready by in the morning, you could try setting a leaving the house alarm using their favourite song. If your child uses public transport, check the bus/train schedules and plan around them. Include any after-school activities in the schedule. Set up a dedicated homework space for your child at home, a place that your child will want to use and place their schedule in a visible place.  

Review previous learning.

Have a discussion with your child about what they learned the previous year. What are some areas they will need to work on (this could be based on what their end of year report says). It can be helpful to talk about your child’s expectations of the school year and what they are looking forward to.

Now is also a good time to review any holiday homework children may have had and to go over any workbooks or exercises to see if your child remembers the lessons.

Starting to do a small amount of ‘work’, can help your child get back into routine, give them confidence in reviewing prior lessons, and give you an idea of any areas they might need to review.

You can also get your child to write about the holidays in a fun way, such as a postcard to a family member or friend. Writing a story can also be a good way to get back into some sustained writing and review some spelling, grammar and punctuation. Try including activities around the house that require some maths or language such as weighing ingredients to be used in cooking or writing a shopping list.  

Above all keep a positive attitude.

Remember that the beginning of the new school year can be daunting for many children and not all of them will be looking forward to the end of the holidays. If you appear stressed and frustrated this can make your child feel the same. When you talk about returning to school show them you are excited for them, remind them of all the fun and new things that will happen, rather than something to be worried about.

With a little planning and a gradual transition back into the routine you can successfully beat the back to school blues and get the year off to a great start.

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