navigating-that-transition-from-holidays-to-school-routine

Navigating that transition from holidays to school routine

It is a big deal. School is starting soon. Whether its school for the first time or school again after a long break, the transition from holidays to school routine feels big. You want your children to take this in their stride and meet school confidently and well.

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There’s lots you could be anxious about –

Will my child make friends?
Can they keep up?
Will they eat their lunch for morning tea?
Can they wipe their bottom properly?
Who will care if they are sad?
How will they remember to put their hat on when they already don’t it at home? 

Or for older kids –

Can they get themselves to school on time?
Will they struggle with friendships?
Will they make good choices?

So how do we step up and meet the new school year with some readiness and confidence?

The chat

This can soothe things down. Talk about what is coming up. Mention the teacher’s name and names of children who might be in the class too. It is great to remind your child that they can always ask a teacher if there is anything they are not sure of.

The visit

Take a tiki tour around the school. There is something about being familiar with the environment that reassures a child and just sets them up for knowing what is in store. Younger children or those tending towards anxiety are going to love having a photo book where you print out a few photos of the classroom, the playground, the toilet block, the entrance, the water fountains – just the lay of the land. Once they know what the environment looks like – they can more easily picture themselves there.

The routines

The holidays provide a wonderful break from the term-time routines but most families find that they are ready to welcome the predictability and sense of order and certainty that a routine provides. About one week before school starts gives you a good lead in for reintroducing the routines that are going to carry them into the new term.

Even the busiest and least organised amongst us can get on board with a few routines that signal to a child that there is a plan in place, some order and pattern and a way of doing things that eventually becomes a habit.

  • Set the alarm clock at the time required to get up. (Some families find that getting up earlier even by 10 minutes, can be the difference between calm and stressful).
  • Pack the school bag the night before. Check that things like swimming gear or sports gear are included, sunscreen, hat, money and books are lined up.
  • Lay out the uniform or what is going to be worn to school. The fewer decisions to be made on the morning, keeps the calm in place.
  • Set the table with breakfast items the night before. The bowls, the cutlery and the cereal. This simply says, “You are ready for the day”.
  • Start the day with a warm greeting – set the atmosphere the way you would like it to go. Charm goes further than growling.
  • Laminate a check list of what the child is responsible for. Bed made, breakfast, bag packed, lunch included, and always a goodbye kiss. Photos make this engagingly personal.

For those starting school for the very first time, have fun eating morning tea and lunch from the lunch box at home before school even starts. There’s so much going on in those first few days, that this knocks out one routine and reminds a child what they can eat for morning tea and lunch.

The pace

It will be tempting with some new found energy, some pestering from your eager children and perhaps even noticing what other families are signing up for – but hold back on getting too busy, especially in that first term.

After school activities are awesome, but give yourself the space that not all of them have to be done this year. One at a time is just fine and for those starting school for the very first time, that is your plate full already. Parents – take care of yourself in the midst of all there is to do. If you are doing okay, your kids are likely to do okay as well.


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About Author

Jenny Hale

Jenny has a primary teaching background and spent three years as a parent educator. Jenny runs workshops at the Parenting Place centre in Auckland and at Hot Tips events around New Zealand. She is the senior Family Coach, working with existing clients as well as training new coaches. Jenny writes regularly and makes appearances on TV 3's The Café. Jenny has two adult children and is a grandmother of two young children.

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