Back to school week is a struggle for everybody involved.
I got extremely irritated when our local ASDA had the Back to School stock in store during the month of June. We were back before we got off.
Teachers find Back to school week hard as suddenly we are governed by ‘the bell” again. We are slaves to its routine. We respond to its chimes with a grimace as we know that we have usually not got enough done . . . Students respond as they know what might be coming next and that either fills them with anticipation or dread.
Many parents think that ‘getting your children ready for the school year ends with new blazers, socks and pencils’. I’m afraid that is only the start. There is as much psychological preparation required as anything else.
It always annoys me when a child says that they hate school – because that is not often the reality. They hate the concept of school – they hate the way that school has been built up for them by their parents and their siblings. In order to make sure that children maximize their potential and get the best start possible at school – parents could bear in mind the following 6 tips . . .
1. Physical preparation: rest and bedtimes
Children need sleep to function. Appropriate bed times are important for children of all ages. Parents need to be consistent with their approach to bed time and make sure that kids have a chance to wind down or maybe even to read from a book before the lights go out. Its not enough to send to bed but to ‘take’ to bed and check that settling and lights out has happened . . . at a reasonable time!
2. Be positive about the school and the people involved
Its too easy for children to ‘hate’ teachers and ‘hate’ certain subjects at school. Challenge this behaviour. Don’t allow your children to develop a negative mentality as it just continues to fester and it only makes things worse. Say things like – ‘I’m sure things will get better’. Try not to personalize incidents if they do happen. Teachers are human too and are just as likely to jump to conclusions and get things wrong as you are.
3. Don’t allow a Fixed Mindset
Sometimes children can get easily put off and they will quickly adopt a defensive posture and will tell themselves that they cannot do something and that they will never be able to do something. Unfortunately, such a stance often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t allow children to get into a cycle of negativity – encourage a growth mindset where they have a ‘can do’ attitude and where they will try and learn from mistakes rather than see them as personal failures.
4. Encourage your child to develop resilience
How people respond to challenges will tell us a lot about their capacity to learn and grow as individuals. Today, children are increasingly lacking resilience. They cannot respond to negativity or weakness and crumble at the first whiff of any resistance. We need to build them up and develop their tools and attributes in being able to bounce back from negativity. We need to encourage them to get back up when they get knocked down and to see ‘the big picture’ in life so that they will be determined – even when things look difficult.
5. Technology can be great when used responsibly
We can’t do much without technology these days – iWatches, IPads, Iphones, digital gaming platforms, tablets and computers all play a big part in our lives. We spend copious amounts of time online. Technology is great but we need to teach our kids responsibility. How long should they spend online each day? What should they be accessing? Should they just have free reign or does a responsible adult make a regular check on what is going into your kids brain. Parents need to take more responsibility here. Limit the amount of device time. Check what your kids are looking up online. Check the age limits of the games they are playing. If in doubt – turn the wifi off or get an app that monitors access. If your child is starting to be more aggressive and violent – look at what they are playing online. It does not have to be an inappropriate game – even the most passive child will suffer if they are allowed to play games that trigger the adrenaline for hours on end.
6. The greatest gift – boundaries
Technology can be great when used responsibly . . . .
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The greatest gift that any parent can give their child is to set boundaries. All too often I meet children who have not been given any boundaries by their parents and some of them are crying our for someone to tell them what is appropriate behaviour. Unfortunately, some parents leave these sense of moral education to teachers and then wonder why school are struggling with their child. Children want their parents to be the ones to be their role models and to be the ones who challenge any behviour or attitude which is abnormal. They don’t need parents who are mates or best friends – they need their parents to be, well, parents. To guide. To challenge. To encourage. To support. To correct, as required.