Its that time we all dread again after the long summer holidays. Most of us are glad to have some time without the kids but at the same time trying to get them back into uniform and the dreaded routine can really be stressful. Luckily for me the wonderful Suzie Wesson, long-term head of reception at The Hall School and mother of two, was on hand to give me some much needed advice.
Following are her tops tips to ease the transition.
For the little ones use the summer to ensure they have the basics down. No not reading and writing but being able to dress and feed themselves, hang their coats up, recognise their name for a peg, able to negotiate stairs; oh and as a female teacher at a boys school, getting them to learn to use urinals can be a god send, not something female teachers are best placed to teach.
If they have holiday homework, try not to leave it to the last minute rush, it only adds to the pressure and a little bit every day can make it much less stressful. (Well you should still have three to four weeks now). It may seem like a drag but going through last year’s work and revision can really help the transition after the long summer break.
Give yourself time at home before school starts to reintroduce a good routine. Regardless of age a good routine works for everyone. If like me they have disappeared over the holidays start at least seven days before to return to the preferred meal, bath and bedtime routine. In addition if they are starting a new school practice the route especially with the older ones who may be taking the bus/train on the own for the first time.
New kit requirements
Try to avoid the last minute uniform/shoes/kit rush. Some kids are okay without the full kit but for many it’s a major stress and will ruin their day.
If you are at a school where classes change, don’t fret. Boys especially make new friends quickly and find their groove. If they are worriers paly down the panic don’t feed it.
Explain, explain, and explain.
When a routine is new knowing exactly what is going to happen makes it less scary. Let them know who is going to pick them up, what’s in their lunch box, where their peg is, how to ask if they need the loo, what activity on what days etc. The more they know the less scary it is
When Term begins
Teachers are there to work with you. Tell the teacher quickly if there is little issues then they can be worked out quickly don’t wait. Especially with the younger children they want to know.
Some children hate being late.
Start the new year as you mean to continue, get up earlier to make sure you are on time and you can keep the morning chaos as calm as possible. It applies to the pick up. Suzie’s partner in his late 50’s still resents being the last at primary school. And if the car share is getting you down, bin it.
Keep after school activities to a minimum
If you can manage it don’t put them in early and late clubs every day.
While they transition play dates after school be a step too far. Too many clubs are silly too. They will be tired, they need to eat, chill then have a bath story and bed.
Sleepovers are mad! Even a 13 year old will take 48 hours to recover from a sleepover
Quality time is essential. Particularly at the beginning of the year it is you they want to be with at the end of the day. Thirty minutes is enough to learn their news then they will be happy and you are free to get on with everything else. If you can sometimes collect them from school it can be the best ten minutes, you can soon see from their face if they are happy or not and often they will be more open if something is bothering them.
Remember every child is different. Some kids love their mates and every day is sunny. Others need to be cajoled and that can be exhausting for us. But take the time to listen to them, answer their questions and explain what will happen and hopefully everyone will have a great year.