School uniforms and lunchboxes are in the shops which only means one thing- it’s almost time to send the children back to school!
As a parent myself I understand the preparation that goes into getting your child ready by taking them to the hairdressers, buying all the uniform and stationery they require. Yet as parents we sometimes forget the importance of spending time with our children to talk through the upcoming start of term and the academic year.
As a primary school teacher who has worked in the Early Years Foundation Stage, parents often approach me with their concerns and ask advice about how to encourage their child to be a little less nervous.
I am a positive believer that familiarisation is an important preparation for returning to school. Visiting the school webpages, learning platforms like Firefly and social media pages with your child is a catalyst for conversation; talking about past lessons, events and experiences reminds them of the good times they have spent at school. Looking through the online photographs of their friends, who they might not have seen for the summer months also encourages children to get excited at the prospect of returning! Arranging play dates can reignite the firm friendships that children rely on when going back to school. Showing off their new uniforms and school accessories to others always creates enthusiasm.
Establishing a routine a few weeks before school starts can be extremely beneficial for both families and children. Getting up and ready for school can be stressful especially when you are all in a hurry! Nevertheless, by practicing for a few days beforehand and setting a routine you can make it more achievable and begin to understand where difficulties may lie such as putting on new uniform and tackling difficult fastening and buckles!
The first few weeks back to school can be tiring at any age. A structured bedtime routine is imperative to support this; a story and quiet time often settles the mind and body. Children that get good sleep are ready to learn in the classroom and that’s what we want!
It is very important for teaching staff to work together in partnership with families to support children in their wellbeing, curriculum and learning. The best way to facilitate this is to build a relationship from day one. Teachers are often accessible and have an open door policy whereby you can have an informal chat which in turn can help you feel at ease especially during the first few weeks back when you may be unsure of your child’s timetable or how they are settling in. If you have any queries or concerns it is best to approach your child’s teacher as soon as possible as addressing it can put your mind at rest and allows the teacher to support the family further.
My main advice for the new school year is to be positive! I understand that families can be as anxious, if not more than children sometimes. Parents may unknowingly project their anxiety onto their child, which consequently can make the child apprehensive about returning to the setting. It is important that children see school as a place for learning, with a happy environment and somewhere where they can trust the staff and their peers. By having a positive attitude towards schooling children will be more receptive and willing to learn.
The new academic year can be daunting but with preparation families and children can feel less anxious and increasingly excited about the prospect of going back to school this September.