Text: Monika Pedersen
The start of a new academic year marks a new chapter, and many opportunities waiting to unfold. It is different from returning to a regular workplace, for everyone returns together after a vacation at school. Nevertheless, there is a sense of celebration and shiny newness: new students, new teachers, newly refreshed classrooms and facilities, familiar faces, friends, and a sense of security.
Before the first day of school arrives, preparation is advisable to ensure the transition back to school life and routines is smoother.
If there is a pre-school gathering such as an ice-cream social or a BBQ, then make a point of joining the event, so you and your child can make some new connections. If a child can see a familiar face in the sea of new faces on the first day, this will help their nerves and set them up for a positive first day.
Meet the teacher
Sometimes, these initiatives are parent-led, and others are school-led, which means there will be a possibility to meet the class teacher. Try to make early contact with the teacher, which would be advantageous as your child will know what to expect, and the teacher also benefits from the introduction. As the class teacher is the main person of contact and the overseer of your child’s academic journey, a positive working relationship will support your child.
New year plans
As the last weeks of the holidays arrive, consider having dialogues with your children about their hopes for the coming year. A general chat about the aspects of school they enjoy and their aspirations in these areas will help them consider the year ahead. A suggestion to take up a new club of activity can generate excitement.
On the flip side, a gentle conversation about areas that are a challenge is helpful. Share some advice and devise workable strategies. Talking about the issues in a non-emotional way should give your child more confidence and a greater willingness to tackle the obstacles.
Shifting of schedules
The summer holidays bring about a change in pace, completely different routines, and freedom. In the last couple of weeks of the vacation, it is wise to begin returning to routines, especially bedtimes and early start times. A child needs approximately 9 hours of sleep, so re-establishing earlier bedtime hours will secure this. In addition, morning routines need to be practised, so good timekeeping regarding school arrival times can begin again.
Plan a shopping trip to purchase school supplies and clothes to generate a sense of occasion and excitement about returning to school. Use any pre-school information such as a supplies list to guide you; however, allow your child to select the pattern, colour, and style, so they can feel a sense of ownership and investment in the new academic year.
Practising the journey to school
Should your child travel independently to a new school, a rehearsal trip to school is recommended so your loved one knows the bus numbers, train schedule, the cycle route and the travel time needed?
"To help orientate your child, post a weekly schedule and review it together."
To help orientate your child, post a weekly schedule and review it together. This is important for primary school students as it helps them organise and navigate the day. In addition, it provides a sense of security. For older students, it helps them allocate time for homework demands and deadlines and out-of-school activities, which are crucial in developing a well-rounded child.
In the first few weeks of school, very young children must know what time they will be collected from school, so they can prepare themselves and, once again, feel a sense of security. For an older student, to have a parent welcome them home and talk about their day is a supportive gesture.
A good year
These suggestions are not exhaustive; however, they endeavour to help you and your child have a great start and another wonderful formative year at school.