For many children, the prospect of returning to the classroom after almost six months away from the school environment may be daunting. So how do we help our kids go back to their routine of focused learning after many months of disruption and uncertainty? We’ve put together some of our top tips for preparing your children for returning to school so that the first day back will be as smooth as possible – for them and you.
We all know that children need a routine to feel secure and to thrive – however, it’s easier for some more than others. While many parents have tried to keep their children to strict routines during lockdown, it’s been challenging juggling working from home and full-time childcare. As a result, our habits have altered, even with our best efforts. So how can we help our children get back into a school routine without too much stress?
Three weeks out from school starting again, ensure your kids go to bed and wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual.
Two weeks out, increase those timings to 30 minutes earlier at the beginning and end of the day.
A week out from school starting, try and get them to bed an hour earlier to get the full amount of sleep they need. At this point, start getting your children up, washed, dressed and fed within the same timescale that they’ll need to have for the school run. If you can, walk to your children’s school or take a ten-minute stroll so that they’ll be used to leaving the house again.
Try and use the same blocks of time that your child will experience on their school days. By having breaks and lunchtime around the same schedule as their school, you’ll be helping them concentrate within the school’s timetabled blocks, even if they’re focusing on play activity. This may help to avoid those slumps and fatigued periods that might otherwise encounter.
Teenagers are always harder to manage (especially with early mornings) but try and encourage them to get up in time for school from around two weeks out. Why not set a morning activity? A chore is a great way to get them up, for example, cooking breakfast for the family or taking the dog for a walk.
The first day back will be a lot easier if their sleep pattern is back in sync.
Layout Their Clothes
Get your kids into the habit of laying out their clothes for the next day the night before. Try and make this activity a game for the week or so before school resumes. While their options will be limited thanks to school uniforms, the habit will stick. In addition, this task will hopefully make your mornings run a little smoother.
Getting Everyone Organised
Many schools are working on a part-time classroom schedule. This change means that part of your child’s learning will happen at school, and part will still be conducted via distance learning at home.
We know that changes in routine can be unsettling for children, so finding a timetable system that they can understand will be crucial. We all think differently and have alternate ways to organise ourselves effectively. Have a few options up your sleeve to trial with your children so you can find the best option for them. This organisation is also an excellent skill for them to have going forward as young adults.
If you have younger children, a whiteboard that you can both draw on is a great way to engage them in organisation. Dedicate time each week where you go through the schedule and make it fun – whether you dance around the kitchen when it’s done, or you both get to enjoy a bowl of ice cream afterwards, make organisation a part of your bonding time – not just a chore. Whiteboards don’t have to big, cumbersome pieces or expensive; these Self-Adhesive Sticker White Boards are a great option if you’re tight on space.
For kids in secondary education, how about a stylish planner? Productivity influencer, Ruby Granger, has built her following on study tips, organisation and productivity. She has recently announced a new academic planner, launching on the 17th of August 2020. This stylish and positive influencer may be just what your kids need to keep them on track. Keep an eye on Pumpkin Productivity, Ruby’s commercial outlet, for the planner’s launch. They’ve got some great study aids too.
For the more technologically focused kids, how about Trello – the productivity app that acts as an online bulletin board. Your kids can assign due dates to tasks, use colour coding and set reminders for themselves. Trello automatically sends reminders about upcoming deadlines. These reminders are great if your kids deal with large amounts of homework while moving between physical and digital classroom spaces.
Let’s face it, your teenagers are better at tech than you are, but chances are you use technology to organise your work in ways that your teen hasn’t experienced yet. So use this time to show them how to manage their online calendar and any hacks you’ve picked up along the way (we’re a big fan of colour coding!).
It’s been hard home-schooling your kids for the last few months, and while the thought of picking up a textbook or attempting to explain long-division one more time may be exhausting, give it a go. First, do a summary with your children of all the things you’ve learnt together during the lockdown.
You don’t need to do this every day, but just run over the basics in English and Maths for an hour, two or three times a week to ensure their knowledge hasn’t been lost in the fun of summer. This review will also be an excellent time to see where your child’s learning is lacking. You can then communicate this to your child’s teacher so that you can both keep an eye on their progress.
Getting Them Excited
We all remember not wanting to go to school when we were little. This year, we need our children onboard more than ever! So do all you can to get your kids excited about going back. Whether that’s picking out new stationery supplies together or driving past the school and talking about the friends they’ll finally get to see after many months.
While there will be guidelines for schools laid out by the government, the expectation is that these will evolve and grow as children return to school and the situation develops. As a result, we’ll quickly learn what works and what doesn’t.
Your children’s school will be in touch with their rules around keeping them safe while at school. Make sure you teach your children the new rules around their school day.
Your kids will already know the importance of face masks and washing their hands, but ensure their school kit includes a hand sanitiser and a fun face mask that you can clean at the end of the day.
Face masks aren’t currently mandatory for children under 11 when on public transport, but your children’s school may require them to have one on the premises. Face masks are turning into the new fashion statement, alongside a cool backpack or the sassiest pencil case, so why not try and engage your kids in safety practices by finding face masks they love?
If you have a mini Hans Solo or Rei on your hands, you may want to check out these cool Star Wars face masks for your little rebels. You can get a pack of four for £20.00, and they offer doorstep delivery as well as free returns. These are in high demand, so get in there quick! We also love these face coverings because they’re reusable, and Disney is donating 100% of the profits to the Red Cross to help people in a crisis.
If your little one isn’t into lightsabers, how about these cute and colourful children’s face masks from Not On The Highstreet. At £12.50 each, these are more expensive, but they’re made from 100% cotton, meaning they’re great for sensitive skin, completely reusable, and they even have matching headbands available.
The bain of every parent’s life is school uniform – it can be expensive and rarely lasts very long thanks to growth spurts and games in the playground. After six months of home-schooling, you’ll need to check that their uniform still fits. Most shops have closed their fitting rooms and, as high street shopping is still dependent on local government advice, it’s time to buy online.
Many cost-effective retailers sell school uniforms online, have free refunds if needed and offer doorstep delivery.
John Lewis has affordable and high-quality pieces like this Box Pleat Tunic or this pack of three Polo Shirts. John Lewis has a fantastic range of sizes and colours, so you can find the perfect uniform for your kids. All items are made of 100% cotton, so they’ll be kind to sensitive skin but will also take a beating without falling apart – that longevity will save you money in the long run.
Asda also lets you purchase online, and they have an expansive range of school uniform pieces like this Girls’ Grey Jersey School Playsuit from just £5. Asda also offers a 100-day satisfaction guarantee, so if the pieces don’t live up to your expectations, you can quickly get your money back.
Tu by Sainsbury’s has some versatile options that will meet your school’s guidelines and all at affordable prices. What we love most about Tu is that they use stain-resistant technology, and in all their trousers, the material around the knees has been reinforced to reduce those scuffs becoming rips! Tu also has sections for secondary and sixth form students. These Sole Comfort Black Plait Loafers offer a more stylish edge for footwear while staying practical. Tu is currently operating a 30 day returns policy.
While the focus right now may be around the new safety precautions and measures that your child’s school is taking in the wake of Covid-19, it’s essential to make sure you’re in step with the academic year ahead.
Check in with your child’s school and make sure you know their teacher for the year ahead.
If you’re in a SATS, GCSE or A-Level year, make sure your children understand what is coming in the year ahead. It can be particularly anxious for kids in those crucial final years as exams have been on hiatus. Try and manage that anxiety and ease any concerns before they head back to the classroom.
If your little one is starting at school, you’ll probably have a lot of questions ahead of their first day. But, of course, you’d most likely have a lot of questions even if your child weren’t starting school in the middle of a pandemic!
Get in touch with your child’s school ahead of induction if you need clarification on any of the guidance that they’re releasing around your child’s safety. Most schools open around two weeks before the children return but do operate with only a skeleton staff. Your kids will be in good hands, but there are some exercises that you can do ahead of them starting school.
Ensuring that they have a grasp of colours, can count from 1 – 10 and have at least started on their alphabet will help them when they first begin their schooling.
Your child’s school will have worked hard to make sure that they create the safest possible environment to help your children learn. But, with second peaks looming and government advice not always forth-coming, your child and their school will need your support more than ever. You may need to be more adaptable this coming year than ever before, and it’ll take teamwork to get your children through this. However, with the faculty and other parents, you can do it.