Time To Get Organised for New School Year
Re-establishing Routines after the Long Hot Summer Keep Stress Levels Down
Re-establishing term time routines after the long summer holidays is one of the most challenging aspects of family life at this time of year.
Many children completely lose their normal sleep patterns, staying up as late as their parents and sleeping right into the morning. On warm days, meal times are often abandoned and children and adults alike eat when they are hungry.
And then there’s the potent mix of summer camps, day trips, long days indoors moving between television and computer games and playing with friends for hours. As the end of August looms, it’s often hard to imagine that routines can be re-established at all.
Áine Lynch, chief executive of the National Parents Council (Primary) says parents should already be re-establishing term time routines.
“Parents will know best how far off term time routines their children have gone and the best way to work back to that. The night before going back to school is too late, so gradually easing children back into routines, such as bed times and meal times is best,” she says.
Lynch suggests doing fun things that fit more into the routine of a school day than the lax summer timetable. For example, getting up early to go on a trip, planning a morning’s baking which requires everyone to be up early and ready to be involved, or going to the library to get some books out.
“Children need positive messages about going back to school, so discussing things like how nice it will be to see all their friends again, or to go into a new class or to have a new teacher helps – rather than giving them the subtle message that all the fun will end in a few weeks when they are back to school,” she says.
The National Parents Council has put up activities on its website (npc.ie) throughout the summer which offer families fun learning opportunities.
“Parents can look after over these activities and pick a few that will give children a chance to get their minds active again. It’s hard to get back into learning after the long summer break and children can lose so much ground.”
Regarding after-school activities, Lynch says it’s important to talk to children about what they’d like to do. “Some children have so much energy, they are dying to get back to routine and after-school activities but others will be exhausted by school,” says Lynch. “It’s always about striking a balance between structured activities and giving children opportunities to have down time and creative play.”
Working out rules together about how time will be managed once school starts again is important.
“Parents need to sit down with their children and negotiate rules around screen time and bed time. When you include children in the discussion, the transition is likely to be easier. Sometimes, when children are involved in rule-making and negotiating sanctions, they can be even stricter than their parents,” she says.