YOU KNOW that the return to school is imminent when ads for barbecues, ice pops and sunscreens are replaced with deals for uniforms and lunch-box fillers. For children, switching from lie-ins and lazy days back to a tightly scheduled routine can be difficult. With a little bit of planning (and patience!) there are a few things that can make the transition back to school a little easier all around.
For children who are starting ‘big school’ for the first time, consider both the emotional and practical elements of that transition. Talk to them about their new school and routine a little every day, without making too much of a fuss about it. For example, talk about the new friends that they are going to meet or the fact that they will have their very own chair. Practice opening and closing their lunch box with them, taking on and off their own coats and work on their self-care skills (going to the bathroom and washing their hands independently). Even simple things like explaining what a bell is and why it rings will prepare them for the barrage of new things they will experience once they start school.
The changeover from later summer bedtimes can have knock-on effects for the first month back at school (grouchiness, difficulty concentrating etc.).Try bringing bedtime back 15 minutes earlier every night for the week before school starts so your child’s body clock can adjust.
Similarly, start re-introducing dietary habits in that last week or two. During the summer holidays children often play a little before breakfast and there is generally a more relaxed approach to mealtimes. Having breakfast shortly after waking for a week or two will help young appetites adjust.
We have a tendency to mourn the end of summer, which can result in almost demonising school. You would be amazed how much a positive outlook can influence how children react to the return to school. Talk about how lovely autumn is, and how it means seeing all their friends again, watching the leaves change colours and thinking about Hallowe’en costumes.
A great morning starts with the night before so think about having lunches and uniforms prepared the night before. It will also provide you with enough time every morning for that much - needed coffee hit!
This article was contributed by a member of Parenting Limerick. Parenting Limerick is a network of parenting and family support organisations. For more information on this and other topics go to www.loveparenting.ie.
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