The last barbeque has been enjoyed, the school uniform has been bought and a chill is returning to the air… The new school year is coming. Whilst you may be looking forward to the relative quiet that marks your child’s return to school, the prospect of confinement to the classroom is unlikely to be quite so appealing to your offspring. Read on for our tips on how to restore your child’s motivation, focus and self-organisation in time for the start of term.
1: Avoid ‘summer slide’
‘Use it or lose it’, as the saying goes, and knowledge is no exception. In fact, researchers estimate that, on average, students lose up to one month’s worth of school-year learning over the summer holiday. This loss can make returning to academic pursuits challenging for your child, particularly as he or she will likely be reluctant to return to disciplined studying after six weeks of freedom. From the start of the school year, it can take up to two months for your child’s brain development to get back on track.
Mitigating ‘summer slide’ can make the beginning of term less arduous for your child. Of course, she or he must have time to rest, relax and recharge over the holiday so that they start the new school year feeling revitalised. However, just 2-3 hours of learning per week is enough to keep ‘summer slide’ at bay, easily achievable by allocating half an hour to study each day.
Learning is most effective when it is engaging. Visiting a museum, creating a project on the country you are holidaying in or completing a summer reading challenge are just a few of the many ways in which you can keep your child’s brain active and developing whilst still having fun.
2: Create a feeling of excitement around the return to school
Whilst you may have limited luck persuading your child that their first day back at school will be just as enjoyable as spending twelve straight hours on the Playstation, it is certainly possible to build sufficient anticipation that putting down the controller does not feel like too much of a wrench. Shopping together for special stationery that your child will look forward to using, reconnecting with school friends before term begins and encouraging positivity about the fresh start and new challenges that the year will offer can all help your child to feel enthusiastic about going back to school.
If your child is nervous, help them to reframe their anxiety as excitement. Physiologically the two emotions are difficult to distinguish, as both are experienced with a cortisol rush, causing a raised heart rate and ‘butterflies’ in the stomach. Encourage your child to replace their fears about what could go wrong with positive statements about what could go well. For example, if they are worried about meeting their new classmates, they could reassure themselves that they are actually feeling excited to make new friends.
3: Support your child in organising themselves
The level of activity and organisation demanded by the school term is a sharp contrast to the unhurried pace of summer and its return can be a shock for your child. Helping your child to take responsibility for organising their own school routine will help him or her to develop useful life skills, like time management and self-discipline, whilst boosting their confidence.
With your guidance, your child can make a timetable which lays out their day. Discuss with your child which nights certain homework activities must be completed in order to meet deadlines and schedule accordingly, alongside after-school activities, daily chores and relaxation time. A simple reward system, such as awarding ten minutes of screen time when daily tasks have been completed, can incentivise your child to stick to their schedule long enough for the benefits of an organised school life to become their own reward.
Making bedtimes and wake-up calls a little earlier each day in the weeks leading up to the new term will help to ease the transition back into early starts and scheduled days. If your child has trouble sleeping in the run up to school, try putting a bedtime routine in place; a warm bath followed by a little time spent reading or listening to you read aloud can help your child to relax and drift off to sleep peacefully.
We hope your child has a successful start to the new school year!
Need a little help? Flying Start Tuition is an award-winning tuition centre offering classes for children from year one through to GCSEs, including their popular Eleven Plus programmes. Classes run throughout the year at their main centre in Chesham and at their five satellite centres in Amersham, Aylesbury, Berkhamsted, Jordans Village and Little Chalfont.
Flying Start are Ofsted registered and accept Childcare Vouchers and Tax-Free Childcare. Bursaries are also available – please ask for details.
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