Let's have a successful start to the new school year
Grade three students seated in their classroom at Mount Olivet Primary School observe COVID-19 protocols.Gregory Bennett

The new academic year, with full face-to-face classes, is set to begin in just a matter of weeks. While the stringent rules and regulations attributed to the novel coronavirus have lessened, we still have to be cautious as there remains several issues to navigate, among them vaccination and sanitation practices.

The past two years have been turbulent and difficult for the majority of students across all age groups. Additionally, in general, back to school for some children can be stressful and worrisome, while for others there is excitement and anticipation.

Some children will be going to school for the first time, some will be entering new schools and most will be entering a new grade level. As opening day approaches, emotions are heightened.

Parents may also be feeling the anxiety bug and, no doubt, the pinch in their pockets as they hit the stores for back-to-school supplies. Then, there is the added stress of working out with your child, the daily commute from home to school and back.

For a successful new school year, parents must begin now to teach children how to adapt to new routines and to learn coping skills for the inevitable challenges ahead. Parents can prepare their children for the classroom to make returning to school a rewarding and positive experience.

Here are some tips to get started on now:

1) Get back into a sleep routine

Over summer, kids have bedtime hours which may not be in sync with school. Start now to get them back in a routine. Enforce certain bedtime best practices, such as no screens an hour before bedtime. Teenagers generally go to bed later than younger kids; however, they still require 8-10 hours of sleep each night for optimum brain performance.

To get a fixed bedtime going, begin having a consistent bedtime routine in which kids do the exact same thing every night before bed. This could include showering, teeth brushing, reading a book, followed by lights out. Avoid any form of caffeine in the afternoon.

2) Evaluate last year's performance and set new academic goals

It's important to assess your child's performance over the last academic year. So, for example, if your child is weak in mathematics or science, start discussing the issues and devise attainable academic goals. There is no point in quarrelling about the past year; what is needed are solutions to unleash your child's full potential.

3) Get school supplies ready

It goes without saying that you should be finalising back-to-school shopping soon. Do not wait on the last minute. Get your child organised with their writing implements, calculator, notebooks and homework recording book (depending on the child's age).

4) Wake up the brain

Many schools have reading lists and require book reviews on return to school. Ensure that this is done. If there is no reading list, it's still a good idea to encourage your child to start reading. Have your kids pick up a pencil or pen and start writing a story or a book review. Practice some mathematics problems. You must get the brain revved up for learning.

5) Communication

Ensure that the lines of communication are open. Talk to your child about the new school year, including your expectations and their goals. Get them excited about back-to-school. On the other hand, have serious discussions about issues such as bullying and teasing as well as a plan of action should your child be either the victim or the victimiser. Communication is also important with teachers. Consider your child's preference in regards to extra-curricular activities which ideally should include some form of physical activity.

6) Extra help

If your child has been struggling with certain subjects despite your best efforts, then the time is now to contrive an action plan. If you are contemplating private tutoring, do your own investigation to ensure that your child will receive quality assistance.

Wishing students and parents a successful start to the new academic year!

DR KARLA HYLTON
Watsonton Primary School students, Chyna Ivy (right) and Alaiah Dacres, go through books in the mini library during the school year.
Students of St Patrick's Primary School.

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