Helping your child back into the school routine

mother daughter family homework Muslim mom mum
Children thrive on routine because it provides them with a sense of predictability and safety in their daily lives, and ensures that their needs are met on regular basis.(Photos: Envato Elements)
Summer is coming to a close and before you know it, school bells will be ringing in the new scholastic year. As a parent, it is important to ensure a smooth transition for your child who has been enjoying holidays and time off school. For many parents, this shift in routine can be chaotic and may pose many challenges. However, it is important to understand that children thrive on routine because it provides them with a sense of predictability and safety in their daily lives, and ensures that their needs are met on regular basis. This is why it is vital to gradually begin the transition from a holiday routine to a school routine that they can rely on, to help them feel familiar and comfortable being back in their school seat. اضافة اعلان

Due to the lockdown and transition to online learning, then back to face-to-face learning, the return to school will probably never be the same. We cannot forget the devastation the pandemic has wreaked on students’ well-being. Based on several global studies that have been conducted since the start of the pandemic, it is now documented that the academic gap has increased as a result of COVID-19 related school closures. One particular study, done at the University of Munich, cites a significant negative effect on student achievement.

A 2021 McKinsey analysis has shown that the crisis negatively impacted not only academics, “but also the broader health and well-being of students, with more than 35 percent of parents very or extremely concerned about their child’s mental health”.

A 2020 report carried by the Centre for Lebanese Studies focused on education in the time of COVID-19 in Jordan and mapped some short-, medium-, and long-term goals for government and school responses to students’ return to schools. The report stressed the importance of addressing the well-being of students and ensuring that they are not pressured into adjusting to the “new normal”, but rather offering them the support they need to make that adjustment on their own.

Teachers, counselors, and parent alike have noticed a significant spike in anxiety, panic attacks, binge-eating, aggressiveness, and other stress-related symptoms in students during the past few years. However, there are many strategies for parents to use with their children, to help them improve their overall well-being, and guarantee a healthy transition back to school.

Model healthy behavior
The first step in ensuring the success of any strategy is to appropriately model all the qualities you are trying to instill. If your child sees that household rules, expectations, and a daily routine are only applying to them, they are less likely to be convinced and motivated to follow them, and rightfully so. It is important to make routine a family affair, and something that your child sees as somewhat of a family tradition that is honored by all family members. 

Do not wait too long
Do not wait too long to set up your back-to-school routine. Sit down with your child and let him know that school is approaching and that it is time to start adjusting some of the habits he was used to on holiday, such as bedtime, meal time, homework, and more. It is of utmost importance to have a clear framework of what your child’s day will consist of. For example, your child might not have to wake up as early during the holiday as he usually would for school, but you slowly have to agree with him to make that time earlier every day during their last two weeks of holiday. The longer you wait to get your child into the habit of going to bed at an earlier time and waking up early, the harder it will be for him to adjust. If your child starts to gradually adjust his timings and habits during the holiday, the night before and the morning of the first day of school are much more likely to be tantrum-free.

Make it visual
Children rely heavily on visuals, and writing down their routine on a poster and hanging it in the living room or on the fridge is another way to motivate your child. When you allow your child to be a part of the decision-making process, it gives him a feeling of autonomy and a sense of being a valued member in the household, and it gets him more excited for the return to school.

Hold official family meetings
Family meetings are vital, but not just for a back-to-school routine. It is preferable to hold a family meeting at least once a week, in a comforting space for your child. It must be a staple habit in your household to check in with each other as a family. Use this time to teach your child how to label her feelings and talk to her about how you feel as well. Start the conversation of mental health now. Remember, to be proactive now, so that we do not have to intervene later.

The longer you wait to get your child into the habit of going to bed at an earlier time and waking up early the harder it will be for them to adjust.

Validate your child’s feelings when she says that she is nervous or apprehensive about going back to school. Remind her that feeling that way is completely normal and that everyone has a hard time adjusting to a significant change in their routine. It is important for your child to hear that she is not alone in her experience and that she is being heard and understood. It is also important to use the family meeting to address serious concerns from the start. For example, your child might be afraid to return to school because of a bully or maybe even a teacher that she did not get along with in previous years. Start preparing the child to come face to face with that person and build a relationship of trust, reminding her that you are there to support her, listen to her, and that no issue will go unsolved.

The wrath of homework
One of the most difficult parts of going back to the school routine, especially after a long summer break, is having to do homework. Perhaps your child was required to do summer reading or practice her multiplication table during summer, but nothing compares to having to go back to weekly, if not daily, homework in multiple subjects.

Much like a morning routine, it is important to provide your child with a homework schedule that can help her stay focused and motivated. Make sure that homework has a set time in the day that does not infringe on her play or break time. When your child is expecting to play at a certain time and then is told that she must do her homework, she is likely to resist.

Replace screen time with healthier activities
Totally eliminating screen time nowadays is unrealistic, especially while children are still on holidays, but as the authoritative figure in the household, you can and should start to limit that screen time. Therefore, much like everything else, you must also work on gradually decreasing daily screen time until they start school again. However, in order for such a strategy to work, you have to offer a fun replacement, be it a board game, a day-trip, or setting up a play date with friends. 

Remember that a school routine is something your child is expected to follow as part of your family, so do not forget to acknowledge the child’s efforts and appreciate the contributions he makes to get ready and out the door on time for that thrilling first day of school.

Read more Education
Jordan News