Article first appeared in the Portugal Resident.
It is that time of the year again! After two unprecedented years with our children restricted by the worldwide pandemic, one would definitely expect all parents and children to be eager for a return to what one hopes will be full-time physical schooling for the new academic year.
For the majority of schoolchildren, this will be a mixture of excitement, anticipation and great optimism. However, it is very important as parents and educators that we do all that we can to facilitate a smooth return to school, and enable their positive development in the year ahead.
Schools will normally prepare very carefully for the beginning of year. I know at our school that we have our own unique induction week, which allows for all of our students, both old and new, to transition successfully into the new school year in a safe and engaging way. We always arrange a memorable school excursion in the first week too!
As parents, as we head towards the school start date, it is important that we prepare our children carefully and gradually for their year ahead, both practically, physically and emotionally, thereby ensuring from the offset that it is both a positive and rewarding experience.
After the long hot Algarvian summer holidays, frequently our children have adopted summer timings, and are now used to morning lie-ins and later nights, no matter what their ages. Although sometimes challenging, this is the time to gradually ensure that both bedtimes and wakeups are earlier. It is vital that all of our children have their correct amount of sleep, especially during the teenage growth years.
Children that have had a good night’s sleep are more active, attentive and eager to learn. Additionally, the re-instating of daily breakfast and evening mealtimes contributes to the smooth transition back to the routine of school life.
Remember to check school uniforms for sizing where appropriate, and order more if necessary. Involving all of our children in this process allows them to visualise starting or returning to school, and motivates them to begin to adapt their mindsets.
Where a school uniform is not worn, going out together to buy new school clothing will encourage the same reaction. Now is also the time to name all clothing in preparation for school.
If your child is starting school for the first time and is not used to wearing a uniform, let them ‘wear it in’ around the house, so that it doesn’t feel strange and new on the first day of school.
The purchasing of a new school/lunch bag and stationery also allows children to begin to consider their commencement or return to school. It stimulates as well as enables mental preparation and eagerness in younger children to use new items.
Now is also a very good time to re-establish elements of learning. Encourage older students to look at their schoolbooks in preparation for the new school year, especially if they are halfway through examination courses, or simply read a new novel, be it classic or contemporary.
Encourage younger children to take part in fun learning activities, such as reading a recipe and weighing out ingredients accurately for the baking of a cake or chocolate brownies.
Try to focus minds back onto learning, as well as having fun during the weeks before the new term starts. All such learning activities will help children ease back into a positive frame of mind for the new school year.
As a family, encourage an optimistic attitude about the new school year. All good schools will have ‘welcome-back-to-school’ meetings, when timetables and details of extracurricular activities will be given out. Place copies of timetables on your fridge and talk about them, so that your children are familiar with them.
Ensure that you have everything prepared, so that back to school is a smooth and stress-free time.
School days should be the best days of our lives. Careful preparation, dedicated parents and committed educationalists will ensure that the foundations are laid for a successful start to the new school year.
Today is your day.
You’re off to great places!
You’re off and away and you will succeed? Yes!
You will indeed 98% guaranteed