I know your first day of school is probably a faded, distant memory now but I’m sure most of us had butterflies in our stomach for days before starting our first day of school. The fear of being rejected by other children and struggling to keep up in class can become overwhelming for most children. I still remember the relieve my hubby and I felt when our youngest one survived her first week of school - all the kicking and screaming in the morning, refusing to get on the school bus, followed by a lot of crying at night because she hated school so muchl. Luckily, for most kids - this is just a phase. If you have kids starting school for the first time or going back to school this year, here are some tips and tricks on how to beat that first week back to school blues.
Concentrate on the positives
The first week of school can be overwhelming so it is important to have your kids reflect on their experience at the end of the week. Get your kids to do a summary of all their highs and lows during the week - whether it’s the new friends they made or their struggle with remembering their timetables. Go through each item on their summary list and try to empahsise on all the positive things that happened during their first week of school. Let them know that you’re proud of their achievements and tell them that they’ll have a great school year ahead to look forward to. For any negative experiences, try to put actions in place to address them. For example: if your kid has been struggling to get back into the early school day routine, have them go to bed early and start their school day with a healthy breakfast.
- Let them know that they have your full support
Small gestures can mean a lot to kids during their first few weeks of school. For younger kids, sending them off with a hug and kiss in the morning or leaving a little caring note inside their lunch box are sometimes all they need to know that you care about them and put them in a good mood for the school day. If time allows, why not take the time to walk your kids to school in the morning or pick them up from school. Take this time to have a chat with them to see how school has been going for them. By bringing up the topic in a more relaxed and casual environment, your kids are more likely to open up to you. If there’s a bike trails to take to school, consider doing it with your kids during the first few weeks of school.
- Get to know their circle of friends
Making friends is a big part of school for kids. Even for those that don’t tend to enjoy school work that much, they would enjoy spending time and playing with other kids their own age during lunchtime or after school. If your kids had a hard time making friends and interacting with other kids during their first week of school, there’s no need to stress because it’ll come naturally. Why not gather the parents and kids in your neighbourhood that goes to the same school with your kid for a small gathering or party to get to know one another. Look up some fun kids party entertainment and themes ideas and start organising!
- Encourage after school interests/activities
The start of a school year is the best time to encourage your kid to take up an interest because it’ll give them time to organise and incorporate it into their weekly schedule for the rest of the year. It’s also during a time when their minds are still fresh and not too overwhelmed with school work commitment. Having a fun after school activity to go to will help to take pressure off their school life and provides them with an opportunity to learn something new and make new friends. Joining a club or association such as arts clubs could provide your kids with the opportunity to learn a life skill that they’ll enjoy for the rest of their lives.
- Eat well & stay fit for the school year
Always start the day with good brain food, which helps to optimise learning and concentration. Aim for wholegrain foods with high fibre for lasting energy like cereal with milk, yoghurt with fruit and toast with grilled cheese or eggs. For those on the go, make a filling milkshake for them to take in the car or bus on the way to school. For lunch, make sure your kid get all the nutrients they need for growth and development. Include food items from a variety of food groups: wholegrain varieties of breaks and rolls, protein foods like cheese, ham, egg and vegatables, milk and yoghurt to build strong bones and don’t forget to include plenty of fruit as a healthy snack. As for staying fit throughout the school year, find out what your kids like to do and sign them up for a sport or encourage them to join a sports club. Or if you’re stuck for ideas, asks for help and suggestions from professionals from health and fitness associations for kids.
- Schedule in play time
All study and no play will drive any child mad. It is important to schedule in some play time everyday after school for your kids to relax and unwind. The best time for a break would be straight after school and before dinner - whether it’s riding bike or kicking a soccer ball in the parks or going for a swim at the beach. Having a break before doing their homework gives their brain a break before concentration is required again. This is also a good opportunity for some family time to catch up on each other’s day.
Virginia is a busy working mother to two energetic school-aged children. With the help of her supportive husband, Virginia successfully juggles the dual roles of career woman and loving mother. Virginia is particularly passionate about health and fitness, and is always looking for new ways to keep her children happy, healthy and active. Virginia lives in Joburg and is a veteran blogger of almost 5 years.