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13th February 2017
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13th February 2017

How to beat back-to-school blues

Parents can help their children prepare for school routines after the holidays

Lynne Arbuckle

Parents often have their hands full trying to get their children ready for a new term after a long school break. After a long holiday children become sluggish and it may take a while for them to get used to waking up early for school. Experts say during recess children do not stick to a routine, which is a crucial part of schooling and how children learn. During holidays children do things in an unstructured way, and the transition to the disciplined schooling environment may require some readjustment.
This is where parents should play their part, though most do not do enough to ease their children into a school readiness mode. Children whose parents fail to help them readjust often battle when the new term starts. For instance, they often get grumpy, struggle to get up in the morning, are unenthusiastic and find it difficult to cope with their schoolwork. If adults struggle to find the rhythm after long December or Easter holidays, it must be even more strenuous for the young ones to cope on their own.
How can parents help children deal with this? Lynne Arbuckle offers her tips on how parents can “get their kids bright-eyed” and energised for a new school term. As the principal of Riverside College in Cape Town’s Burgundy Estate, Arbuckle has considerable experience in helping parents resolve this challenge. Her pre-primary, primary and secondary schools have a holistic approach to education, with comprehensive academic, sports and extramural activity programmes. All classes are capped at 24 learners.

According to Arbuckle, parents need to:
• Start a back-to-school tradition: Do something special on the first day of term. Put some time aside to do something other than homework when they get home — go out for an early supper or a movie together — on a school night! The excitement engendered by the ritual is sure to bubble over into the school term.
• Leave an encouraging note: A lunchbox or pencil case is the ideal place to leave a special note or picture for your child to find the next day. This method is especially effective for sensitive children who miss the safety of their home environment.
• Get them something new for school: This doesn’t have to be an expensive gift — a small novelty can go a long way. It could be a new pen, a fun lunchbox snack or a pretty hair-tie. Speaking of hair, a new cut or style will have most kids raring to go show off to their classmates!
Says Arbuckle: “At the end of the day, communication should be your number one motivational tool. Talk to your children about their experiences at school every day and listen to what they say. If a child is not listened to, their self-esteem will suffer, and all activities will become problematic.”

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