Time To Get Organised for New School Year
Re-establishing Routines after the Long Hot Summer Keep Stress Levels Down
Parent mentor Sheila O’Malley sees back to school time as an opportunity for parents to get children to be more responsible for themselves. “You can teach them to prepare their lunches and get their clothes ready. If you think of it as ‘the morning begins the night before’, there’s less to do in the morning,” says O’Malley.
“The start of a new term is an opportunity to upskill the child. It takes time to show them how to do things like making their lunch but even young children can then make their own lunches for school. The more opportunities they have, the more capable and confident they become,” says O’Malley who has a range of parenting tips on her website practicalparenting.ie.
Lynch agrees. “Organisational skills are important and if children are involved in getting their clothes ready for school, deciding what to have for lunch and putting it in their school bag themselves from an early age, it helps them to become independent adults.”
Break it up
However, if as a parent, you find re-establishing term time routines extremely stressful, it’s best to break the day into smaller parts and not try to fix the whole day in one go. “Work out what’s the most stressful point in the day and pick that point and start working on that first and leave the rest,” says Lynch.
“If getting your children to school on time is your stressful point, consider what it would be like to get up 15 minutes earlier or have certain things prepared the night before or decide who does what jobs in the morning. The key is to step back out of the time it’s happening and engage everyone to try to solve the problem.”
Re-establishing routines for teenagers requires the same amount of attention from parents as re-establishing those for younger children, according to Helen Long, developmental neuropsychologist at Tallaght hospital, Dublin.
“Teenagers have to re-establish routines for sleep, diet, personal hygiene and socialisation,” says Long. “It’s all about the new demarcation between work time and down time, and most parents have rituals around buying school shoes, school books and covering or not-covering those school books which puts structure on the start of a new school year.”
Long says that, as a society, we are quite good at managing the transition from primary to secondary school and at the upper end of secondary school but we need to pay more attention to our 13-15 year olds.
“Some teenagers at this age can be just as anxious and worried about going back to school as four year olds who are starting primary school. We, as parents, need to give them the same amount of attention as younger children about getting to bed on time, not sleeping in late at the weekends and keeping them busy with what they want to do outside of school time.”