Every holiday means a break in routine for kids. This is a good thing, as the children get to recharge and reset for the next phase in their schooling.
But getting ready to go back to school is important. Moving from holiday-mode to school-mode can be made smoother with these few tips.
For children with special learning needs, much of the normal apprehension about returning to a new school year can be magnified. All the following tips could help any children. For remedial learners, be sensitive to their particular emotional needs.
All of this is in the context of (what we hope is) the tail-end of a global pandemic. But children are resilient, and we are capable of more than we realise.
Tip #1: The Remedial learner needs to know you are on top of everything
For many special needs learners, anxiety is a very real challenge. Leading up to the first day back after holiday can be acutely stressful. The remedial learner needs lots of communication and an assurance of organisation.
Set your child’s minds at ease by assuring them that everything is in order. You have everything in place for them to be back at school. Let them know when school is opening and keep an eye with them as the days count down.
The next tips will embellish how to build towards excitement in the kids for the first day back. We will also look at how to prepare them physically and emotionally for the big day.
TIP #2: Get back into the school sleep schedule before school starts
Most children cannot simply get back into their school sleeping schedule overnight. Easing back into sleeping routines is recommended. If, for example, children have been sleeping at odd hours, begin to set a time for bed. Align that time with the regular sleep time over the course of a few days.
Also make sure that the kids begin waking up on time for school. Begin to cut down on sleeping late in the mornings as well.
Also, start the usual routines for getting ready bed. It’s important to have the lead-up to bedtime become regular as well. Daily bathing and getting into pyjamas will aid in normalising school-term bedtime routines quickly.
Reducing sugar intake also makes for a better sleep at night. As school approaches, start cutting back on the junk food for rested children. This will make the transition smoother. All these steps will be good for any child. The remedial learner will benefit even more.
TIP #3: Cut back on screen time
Holidays often mean that the screen time almost never switches off. Limits in place during the term have gone out of the window. TV, YouTube, video games or just blankly staring at a device’s screen could have become too normal. This type of stimulation is not conducive to concentrating on a teacher’s lesson. The adverse effects of too much screen time on children’s development are also documented.
Going back to school is an opportunity for the whole family to unplug. Charge devices away from the dinner table and bedrooms. Use an alarm clock rather than a cellphone to wake up in the morning.
Make sure kids are off devices half an hour before bedtime as well. Do not let them take tablets or cell phones to bed. This undergirds Tip #1, as it will help them sleep better at night.
TIP #4: Discuss the going-back-to-school nerves – and address any related directly to learning challenges
It is very normal to be nervous before going back to school. It is not only students that get anxious about returning to school. Teachers do as well!
Talk through these feelings with your children. This helps them work through their fears and enables them to cope.
Let your kids express their worries and concerns. Just putting negative feelings into words is very helpful. It can already help them see it isn’t as bad as they are feeling. Offer some of your own stories about feeling nervous as school opening approached. Have them chat with other children about the first day of school, too. Knowing that they are not the only ones feeling this way will help them face the feelings of the first day.
Discuss some specific situations that your children might be particularly nervous about. Maybe they are anxious about who they might need to talk to. They might be worried about who they could sit next to. Chat about a strategy to handle that. You could even do some role-playing. All of this will make the kids feel prepared and confident for the first day.
Another practical help to calm nerves is to teach them to take deep breaths. When they feel nervous, deep breathing sends a signal to the brain to calm down.
Remedial learners have their own unique concerns with regards to school. Don’t be afraid to discuss their specific concerns. Learning challenges are real. But they can be overcome. Do not gloss over their feelings. Always be encouraging them that they can do well, with some help. This is what their remedial school is there to do.
Tip #5: Build your children’s independence
Encouraging your children to do things for themselves builds confidence. They will feel better prepared for the first day of the school in general. This is a by-product of doing daily, age-appropriate chores. Even when these activities that have no direct bearing on schoolwork.
This is because when a kid knows that he or she can handle loading the dishes on their own, they will feel better able to handle school activities and responsibilities.
An eleven-year-old that can mow the lawn under supervision, will have no problem running an errand for their teacher.
These are just some examples. Whatever a child has learnt to do on their own shows them they can handle things by themselves.
Also, getting your kids involved in preparing for school can make them excited rather than jittery. If they choose their own stationery and polish their own shoes, this can in turn ease their own nerves.
Tip #6: Make sure they have the right school bag
As mentioned in the previous point, most children enjoy getting kitted out with new school supplies. Getting it all packed into a bag they love will help them feel ready to go. If a backpack, make sure that the bag will be comfortable. Get broad, padded straps. See that there are enough pockets and compartments for stationery and sundry, as well as books. Test before buying, and adjust the straps.
Many of these will apply if your older child opts for a more briefcase type of a bag. Make sure it will carry everything needed.
Let the kids choose the design and characters. It is their bag!
Bonus Tip: Visit the school with your child
This can be really helpful if your kid is joining a new school this year. Most schools are open a day or two before the children come back. Take the gap and visit the new school with your child. Being even a little bit more familiar with the school buildings will ease nerves.
Japari looks forward to starting the new school year!
While Japari has year-round admissions, starting off fresh in the year is thrilling! We look forward to helping your children and seeing them rising to the challenge in their learning needs.
We have a proven track record of assisting remedial learners. We are very excited to continue the journey with our returning students. We are delighted to begin the journey with our new parents and learners. We will provide the support you need to see your children soar!