Ok, it's been lovely having the kids home for the summer, honestly, no really!
To be fair, with the weather being uncharacteristically kind this summer, it has certainly not been as bad as it could have been. Now though it’s time to prepare the children for what September has in store, whether it’s ‘big school’ for the first time or progressing from Primary to Middle school. Most children will be feeling a mixture of fear and excitement (most parents will too, let’s be honest!) but being prepared can minimise the risk of any problems.
Most schools now operate a ‘graduated start’ entrance policy, which means that for the first couple of weeks the children will do either mornings or afternoons only, or some other form of short day designed to ease them into the longer days that school entails. During this time the teacher will take time to get to know all the children and ensure they in turn are comfortable and relaxed. The children will be introduced to classroom rules, and general school rules.
Although children will invariably already know others in the class, a good teacher will encourage children to make new friends, expand their circle and for the more outgoing children to ‘buddy up’ with the less confident ones.
High school, comprehensive, grammar…call it what you like, is a massive change from the security of Primary School. Overnight the top dogs are straight back down to the bottom of the pile. Different classrooms for different lessons in a huge unfamiliar building is the stuff nightmares are made of. Make sure your child knows that yes, they will probably get lost, possibly arrive late to a lesson and inevitably suffer some embarrassment as a result. Then make sure they know that this applies to EVERY child starting the school and has done since time began! Encourage them to adopt a ‘safety in numbers’ strategy until they are more familiar with the school layout.
Almost without exception a childs biggest fear is being ‘different.’ Standing out for all the wrong reasons, a carrier bag instead of a pump bag, short trousers when everyone else is wearing long, or, heaven forbid, a hand knitted jumper substituting the regulation school sweatshirt (and yes, this DID happen to me and I have NEVER lived it down).
Most schools will distribute a supply list before term begins, try not to cut corners on this even though it is likely that some things included on the list will never actually get used. Nothing distracts a child from learning more than spending an entire lesson worrying that at any moment now the teacher is going to instruct them to ‘get out your protractors’ and they don’t have one.
Fuel their education
Packing a nutritious lunch and/or breaktime snack is vital. Include plenty of variety, by all means put fruit, nuts and seeds in there, but be sure to include the odd sweet or chocolate treat. Lifetime friendships have been forged over lunchbox ‘swapsies.’ Find somewhere safe and secure, either in the school bag or locker, to keep a couple of pounds emergency dinner money, in case the packed lunch ever gets forgotten.
A Bad Start
What if your child hates school by the end of day one? Firstly don’t panic. Give them a little time to get used to unfamiliar routines and surroundings, and things should settle down naturally. If the feelings don’t fade talk discreetly to teachers or school counsellors to check there is no underlying problem, and do all you can to encourage your child to open up about what the problem could be.
Follow these simple tips to ensure your child gets the best out of their schooldays:
Get enough sleep
Eat a healthy breakfast
Adopt a regular routine, particularly where homework is involved
Never be afraid to ask
Remember that teachers are human too
Keep an even balance between work, rest and play
Art and Craft suppliers Tindalls has recently opened a branch in Colchester's Trinity Street, and here you can find an Aladdin’s cave of top branded names in the world of arts, crafts and stationary supplies, in fact everything for the well stocked pencil case. There is nothing that says new term, new school or new start better than a pristine set of brand new coloured pencils!
And to add some brain food to those lunch boxes head to Sir Isaac’s Walk in the heart of Colchester, where The Natural Health Shop is the town’s longest established independent health and beauty shop. In amongst the Vitamins, herbs, cosmetics and health supplements you will find a range of healthy Organic whole foods, snacks and drinks plus Fair Trade cereals, nuts, chocolate, seeds and fruit. Little treats that are so delicious they won’t even realise they’re good for them!
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