Many parents thought the day would never come, but at long last the school gates are open to all again! For pupils returning to the classroom, the readjustment to school life (or the ‘new normal’ version) will be demanding. Early starts and long days, reconnecting with friends and getting back to regular work will be draining, especially when students may have more than a few butterflies in their tummies at the thought of it all. Adding to the stress for some, will be the worry that they need to make up for ‘lost time’ by working harder than usual. The whole scenario risks becoming overwhelming!

How can you best support your child during this transition period? Read on for our advice on how to help them to get the new school year off to a flying start!

Balance and Pace 

Children have missed classroom time, however there is no need to adopt an intensive schedule of additional work to catch up. This approach will quickly prove tiring – for all concerned. After the demands of the school day, your child will need plenty of time to rest in the evenings and at weekends. If they are resistant to doing anything more, avoid pushing them. Most important right now is to ensure your child feels positive about the year ahead, and a gentle transition back to schoolwork will be instrumental in this.  

Once they have settled back into their basic routine, you may like to introduce some practice at home. Look for simple ways to consolidate key learning without it becoming a chore. From reading together to quick-fire mental maths in the car, family board games to budgeting the shopping, there are many engaging ways to practise crucial skills. Puzzle books, such as crosswords or Sudoku, can be surprisingly popular, as can word games like Boggle – simply arrange a nine-letter word into a 3 by 3 grid, ready to be unscrambled!  

Rest and Routine

As their days regain uniformity, structure and deadlines, children may feel frustrated that the comparative freedom of lockdown has been curtailed. It will be helpful to give them small choices about their routine that let them feel in control. One way to do this is to set a bedtime and a list of activities that need to be done by the time bedtime comes around, but let your child choose the order in which they do these. Alongside any necessary tasks, like homework or small chores, include restorative activities like a bath or time spent colouring, reading or doing gentle exercise (family yoga, anyone?!)  

Creating a bedtime routine will help your child to sleep soundly and get all the rest they need to cope with their busy days. At least an hour before bedtime, switch off the television and put away any gadgets like mobile phones or laptops. The blue light emitted by these devices suppresses the body’s production of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. Instead, opt for an activity that will relax your child’s mind and body; deep breathing and stretches, then snuggling in with a story book would be ideal! The most important thing is consistency, as following an established bedtime routine will tell your child’s body that it is time to sleep.

Fuel the Day!

Research shows that what a child eats for breakfast can have a huge impact on their school performance, particularly how well they are able to process and remember facts. Rushed school mornings make it tricky to squeeze in a substantial breakfast, but fortunately there are many delicious and speedy options that are excellent brain fuel! Overnight oats are a brilliant option, not least because all your child needs to do is grab them from the fridge in the morning. Just fill a container with equal parts oats and milk (or equivalent), stir and pop in the fridge. Mix in Omega-3 rich nuts and seeds (walnuts and chia seeds are good options) for an extra brain boost!  

But what about the Eleven Plus exam?

The postponement of the Eleven Plus (11+) exam means that children now have around 7-8 weeks of preparation time remaining. Avoid the temptation to cram! Pushing too hard now may easily lead to burnout or frustration with the whole process, particularly when they are also managing the return to school. Support, understanding and plenty of rest will be crucial, alongside a manageable revision and practice routine.

Need a little help? Flying Start Tuition is an award-winning tuition centre offering maths and English tuition for children from year one through to GCSEs, including their popular Eleven Plus programmes.  Classes run attheir main centre in Chesham and at their satellite centres in Amersham, Berkhamsted, Jordans Village and Little Chalfont. Many courses also run online.

Flying Start are Ofsted registered and accept Childcare Vouchers and Tax-Free Childcare.  Bursaries are also available – please ask for details.

For further information, contact:
t: 01494 772 898