Summer holidays have been and gone, and the beginning of the new school year is upon us.
And the transition from long days and late bed times back to a rigid routine can be a bit of a shock to the system.
But with some effort put into how you and your children will approach the new school year, you can make the change as smooth as possible and help your child get the most out of their schooling.
So with some reflections from our blog posts from over the years, here are some of our top tips for making 2017 your child’s best academic year yet.
Stick to a routine.
Our staff psychologist Dani Kaufman has emphasised the importance of routine in childhood.
Having a consistent routine in place for when your children aren’t in school will help them to feel secure and safe, and support the development of positive life long habits.
Flexibility is important to a degree, but building a routine around fundamentals like meal times, family time, play time and homework time will ensure that your kids get the things they need to do done, while also leading a balanced lifestyle.
Routine also teaches and creates boundaries, which can be especially useful in monitoring their technology usage and screen time.
Frame new parts of your routine around existing ones; for example, homework gets done before playtime, or bedroom cleaning gets done before dinner.
Support good sleeping habits.
A good amount of sleep is incredibly important in a growing child’s life, and has a direct impact on their performance at school.
Make sure your kids are going to bed at consistent times that allow for enough sleep (between 7-10 hours a night).
If they have trouble sleeping, consider a no-screen-time rule for 30 minutes before bed (or longer if possible), and make sure their bedroom is a relaxing environment (clean, tidy, and free from distractions and harsh lighting).
If your child seems to have consistent sleep problems, it may be with considering and investigating if they have a sleep disorder.
Talk (and listen) more.
Make time in your routine to talk one-on-one with your children.
This could be meal time or on the drive home from school.
Take interest in their day, and be supportive and engaged with what they have to say.
This will highlight any troubles they may be having at school but are too nervous to tell you about…
And it will also strengthen your bond and encourage them to be honest and open with you (which is especially important in teenage years).
Also try taking a moment to consider what positive things happened to them that day can encourage a sense of gratitude, which has been shown to have a significant relationship to life satisfaction.
Foster a love of learning.
Rather than championing their result-based successes at school, praise the effort that goes into them.
This is what we have often referred to as the ‘Fixed’ versus ‘Growth’ mindset.
This will help them to become resilient in the face of disappointment, while also valuing learning for learning’s sake — an important life skill that will continue to benefit them in their academic and professional pursuits.
Encourage extracurricular activities.
The key to a good routine is creating balance.
Between school work, family time, exercise, socialising and play (among others).
This is especially important in the latter more academically rigorous high-school years, where students can easily become overwhelmed with stress from the pressures of exams.
Encouraging them to take breaks from study to wind down will help to make the study process less overwhelming, and more enjoyable.
Outdoor or creative activities are particularly good for both physical and mental health.
Setting up a calendar with important dates (including assignment due dates) will make sure they keep on top of things and avoid the stress of last minute deadlines.
Instituting organisational practices into your routine will help two-fold, so try getting room cleaning, bag packing and other chores into their daily ‘to-do’ list.
All of these positive processes will support each other, and be beneficial for not only your child, but also for the whole family.
Just a few small steps each day can make schooling and home life exponentially easier, more productive and less stressful.
So in this early stages of the first term, sit down with your child and talk about how you can come up with a good plan together, that will support them in everything they want to achieve in the coming year.
And when things go wrong or a spanner is thrown into the works — don’t stress!
Slipping up on good habits from time to time is inevitable, and with those habits ingrained in your daily life, the slip-ups will be much easier to recover from.
Here’s to your child’s best school year yet!