Back to School - My New School Year Resolutions
Be honest - do you also heave a sigh of relief when the kids settle back into school after summer?
If you've been working all summer and your children have been shuttled from one camp 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 TV or play on the iPad by the start of July. 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, notebook, still to be defaced and dog-eared - and I feel the need to start afresh too.
So, with that in mind, this year I'm making a few new (school) year resolutions to get us all off to a good start. These are mine, I'd love to hear what you would add to my list!
1 Get the School Info
To empty my children’s backpacks 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 hoard them in the corner of 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 for me?)
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 clubs or childcare, starting homework, making dinner the last thing my children want to do is tell their parents what they've been doing at school, and I often forget to ask but I know it’s good to do it, and 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.
Recent studies by Boston College 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 math, science and literacy.
Apparently, sleep deprivation in children is a particular problem in affluent countries and one of the reasons for this could be the use of screens 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.
More on how to help kids develop a healthy relationship with screens.
4 Do Oatmeal
I will not force my children to eat oatmeal, but I’ll try my darndest. In our family it causes them to 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 break.
I watched an interview recently with a principal and the founder of a charity called Magic Breakfast about the numbers of children going to school hungry and how it’s affecting their concentration, behavior, 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 semester, 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 is 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 K-5 math skills. Designed for 5 to 11-year-olds to use at home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning math (15 minutes, three to five times per week) that fits into busy family routines. Komodo users develop fluency and confidence in math - without keeping them at the screen for long.
Find out more about Komodo and how it helps thousands of children each year do better at math - you can even try Komodo for free.