Back to school - my new school year resolutions
Be honest - don’t you heave a sigh of relief once the kids have settled back into school after summer?
If you've been working all summer and your children have been shuttled from one summer scheme to another you've probably felt guilty that they haven’t had time with you, time to just play, to lounge around and get bored.
If you have been at home with your children then you probably ran out of reasons why they shouldn't just sit and watch telly or play on the iPad by the first week of August. You can’t win.
I have never lost that back-to-school feeling at this time of year. It’s part anxiety, part anticipation and a little bit of excitement.
The new school year has always felt to me more like the beginning of a new year than January does – my children are meeting their new teacher, opening the first page of a clean, white, exercise book, still to be defaced and dog-eared - and I feel the need to start afresh too.
So, my ‘new school year resolutions’ are:
1 Get the School Info
To empty my children’s school bags every day so that I find all the crumpled notes the teachers have sent home.
...And to read said notes
...And to sign the consent forms and send them back the next day and not stockpile them in the corner of the kitchen.
...And to work out a good system to keep the important information without the sheer volume of paper overwhelming the house - anyone got any suggestions?
2 Talk More
Talk to the children about what they've done at school.
In the general mayhem of getting out of work, picking them up from after school club, starting homework and making dinner, the last thing my children want to do is tell their parents what they've been doing in the classroom and often I forget to ask. But I know it’s a good thing to do so I will persevere.
3 Re-establish Bedtime
It’s hard this week. The weather has been lovely and my children just want to stay out and play, but they need to get to bed earlier.
Studies by University College London and Boston College in the States have proven that lack of sleep affects a child’s ability to learn.
Analysis by Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) shows that across countries internationally, on average, children who have more sleep achieve higher in maths, science and reading.
Apparently, sleep deprivation in children is a particular problem in affluent countries and one of the reasons for this could be the use of screen on laptops, tablets and smartphones last thing at night. It’s not just that they are kept awake messaging their friends, but the light from the screens so close to their face is actually telling their brains to stay awake.
4 Do Porridge
I will not force my children to eat porridge, but I’ll try my damnedest. Poddy, as it's known in our house, is reserved for any damp, cold school morning - which, given our climate, means most of the year. Yes, they will grumble a bit, but the addition of honey or soft brown sugar "sweetens the pill" - and I'm convinced it keeps them fuelled until lunch.
I watched an interview on the Channel 4 news with a head teacher and the founder of a charity called Magic Breakfast about the numbers of children in Britain going to school hungry and how it’s affecting their concentration, behaviour, and ability to learn.
‘Magic Breakfast’ aims to provide breakfast in school for as many of those children as they can. I think it’s a brilliant initiative. I can provide my children with a proper breakfast – I just need to make sure they eat it.
5 Show Patience
Show some patience! Every year at this time I forget just how much going back to school seems to exhaust my children.
Maybe it’s the build-up to the new term, suddenly having to switch their brains back into gear or, for my daughter, the emotional turmoil of the playground and who is friends with whom – whatever the cause, we've had meltdowns every day this week as soon as homework or music practice are mentioned.
I have to be calm, it happens every year, it doesn't last, it’s just getting back into the routine.
I'm Jane, Co-founder of Komodo, mum to Kate and James. If you have any questions, please get in touch.
About Komodo – Komodo is a fun and effective way to boost primary maths and literacy skills. Designed for 5 to 11-year-olds to use at home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning that fits around busy family life. Komodo helps users develop fluency and confidence in maths and English – without keeping them at the screen for long.