North of the Border our kids are already back at the interactive-white-board face and life is settling back down into a term time rhythm again. Stress levels have just about returned to normal.
The general level of anxiety and upheaval caused by the start of term takes me by surprise every time. It’s not as if this is something new, this is the ninth year I’ve been packing kids off to education. However, it doesn’t seem to get any easier.
In the middle of all the missing school bag and new shoe mayhem, I started to think that my many trips around the school block must start counting for something.
So here are my top tips for a calmer start to the term, that hopefully will set a good tone for a new year of learning.
Start thinking about it sooner than you want to. You might feel like the long summer holiday is going to last forever and you have plenty of time to get ready. You don’t really. Allow yourself – and your children – a full fortnight to get prepared.
Tackle troubles head-on. It might be that something was worrying your teenager before the holidays that is still on their minds. It’s easy to avoid difficult subjects, but the relaxed days of the break are the best time to talk. You also have time to contact school before the first day of term if necessary.
Check the school and local authority website. There might be changes or news you need to know about.
Ease your way back to school day routines. It’s tempting to keep the easy going holiday spirit going until the last minute, but, in my experience, a sudden switch from late nights and lying in to school bus hours can cause something like jetlag. This doesn’t help matters at all.
Assemble all the kit. Don’t take your teenager’s word for the fact he knows where his tie/bag/shoes are. Ask for proof, it might save a last minute melt-down.
Head the hassles off. Ask yourself what the biggest problems were last year and see if you can’t find a way to stop them happening again. For example, set aside a time and place for homework so your son or daughter has no excuse; buy identical socks so there is no difficulty in finding pairs every day; or lay down the rules about such things as mobile phone use in advance.
Look at the year ahead. Give yourselves time and space to think about the terms that are coming up – particularly if it’s a big year. How are you going to gear up to exams or whatever’s on the horizon?
Think positive. Some youngsters can get really low at the prospect of the long term ahead. To them the trials of education can loom large. Discuss the up-side of going back to school, catching up with friends and favourite teachers, special events in the term and remind them that it might seem like forever, but it will pass very quickly.