Written by James Pinniger
As the long Summer holidays draw to a close, thoughts now turn to the return to school… not before time some of us might joke!
One of the problems of the long break from school is that your children have got out of the routine that school life brings. And, chances are, so have you. Anyone else dreading the first week of the school run morning mayhem after six weeks off? At Student Nannies HQ we’ve put together some top tips to try and make your back-to-school transition as easy as possible.
- Ramp up your routine Create – and stick to – a regular daily routine as early as possible. For a child, knowing what time they have to be up each morning (we’re fans of the Gro Clock), what time they go to bed and at what time they need to complete specific tasks e.g. homework is important and will make your life and theirs much easier. The other bonus is that children understand when they have “spare time” for fun activities.
- ‘Where am I going today?’ is a question we’re often asked by our little boy Monty due to our complicated childcare arrangements. It’s actually going to be a lot simpler now they will both be at school, but the drop-off and after-school plans are a combination of Student Nannies, after-school club, us parents and Nanna! So your kids know what to expect from their day, sit down and help them to create a poster that tells them what happens Monday – Friday to put up in the kitchen or on their bedroom wall.
- Screen time rewards Reduce screen time, both TV and mobile devices during the week – this will free up time for homework and exercise. One good tip here is to make children “earn” their screen time by completing certain tasks e.g. their homework, eating breakfast or tea, bedtime reading or even helping tidy up their bedroom!
- Try and stay calm Remember that it’s us parents that set the tone, so the theory is that if you are organised, calm and relaxed – your children will be too (admittedly we still struggle with this when we can only find school shoe, all of the water bottles have seemingly disappeared and we need to be on the 8.51am train to work). Give yourself a fighting chance by setting the alarm a little earlier for that first week back to give you plenty of time to cope with the chaos.
- Re-set sleep patterns Chances are that your children have been staying up later and waking up later through the holidays. But an 8am wake up won’t work when they’re due at school at 8.35am. You need to start winding back their bedtimes and getting them up earlier. If your children can’t tell the time yet just start tea, bath and bed routine half an hour earlier this weekend – and they probably won’t even notice!
- Brilliant breakfasts Brekkie is often the thing that ‘gives’ in the pre-school rush as you chase your children out of the door clutching half-eaten pieces of toast. To make sure they get the best start to their day (and have energy to concentrate in lessons), plan healthy breakfasts the night before. Porridge, Weetabix, a boiled egg, mashed banana with Greek yoghurt and the, not quite so healthy, toast with Nutella are all hits in our house. Also try to have a (healthy) snack available as soon as they return home – hummous with Twiglets or cucumber and carrot sticks to dip in it; air-popped pop corn; cheese on toast.
- Homework tactics Make a plan for dealing with homework and stick to it. We’ve had success getting our kids to do their homework in the gap between their evening meal and their pudding – this works really well for younger children so they can relax when they get back from school and you can capitalise on the brain-power boost that food gives them, plus you have the incentive of pudding when it’s done!
- Don’t make too many plans School days can be tiring – both physically and emotionally – for younger children, and particularly those starting school for the first time. For the first few weeks, make sure you allow some quiet time into their routines, don’t plan too many weekend or after-school activities.
- Talk about school to your children EVERY day Aim to give each child five minutes of your undivided attention every day – this will help with their language and communication skills and re-inforce the importance you, and they, should place on their education. It will also help to identify any potential problems they may be experiencing in school at the earliest opportunity. Try to ask quirky, open-ended questions to avoid getting one-word responses – rather than ‘How was school today?’ try ‘Who was naughty today?’ ‘Who made you laugh today?’ ‘What games did you play at lunch time?’ ‘What was for lunch?’
Good luck folks!