The summer holiday is on its way out and soon we’ll be faced with a new school term. Now, school mornings and the school run are usually associated with kerfuffle and craziness; at least that is the word on the streets. So, I have compiled a list of my most effective ways to make going back to school after the summer holidays and right through to their last day of term, run smoothly.
• Wake up early
• Get your kids to help you
• Work through a list
• Go slowly
• Finish with gratitude and appreciation
Prepare for your little one’s return back to school
I like to prepare my girls a few weeks in advance of a big change. I did it before introducing my second baby, before moving home and even before having people come over to stay. It really helps kids to regulate their emotions and behaviour if they've had some time to prepare and it will help them to feel comfortable, confident and safe. But how do you prepare for starting a new school or a new school term weeks in advance?
Ahead of the school term
• Have lots of conversations around the idea of going back to school: Get your little one talking to you about what they expect from going to school and how they feel, every now and then. This will help you to address any concerns they may have and create an idea that the process of going back to school is a positive one. My girls also really love hearing about what life was like for me as a little school girl, they’ve even seen pictures of me in my school uniform and they get all excited about wearing school uniform.
• Find and read positive books about going to school: A great way to introduce conversations about school is through books, some of our favourite books are:
The Drama Llamaby Rachel Morrisroe
Hey You! By Dapo Adeola
The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad
Wonderfully Me by Toyin Owoseje
My School Unicorn by Willow Evans and Tom Knight
You could also have a general chat any time you see a school scene in a movie or you pass by a back to school aisle in a shop and use every opportunity in every day life to create a positive and safe feeling about going back to school.
• Take walks to school, during the end of the summer holiday. This helps both yourself and your child because you will get used to the journey together and if it is your first term there, you will know exactly how long it takes to get there. The girls and I play games, such as eye spy, along the way... The girls' whole first term starting at nursery was spent playing eye spy on our wintery walks, which was so much fun and remains as a beautiful memory for all of us. So practice your journey and make it fun.
• Try on uniform. Eek! I’m getting so excited typing this one. I’m having flashbacks to the joy I received as a child whenever I got to try on my new school uniform as a kid. I see the same look on my girls’ faces when they try on theirs. Trying on uniforms is a fun thing to do for the kids, and it really gets them in the zone of feeling smart and grown up. I have to warn you though, if you are sending your child to school for the first time you might need a tissue; it can get emotional.
• Use positive language. Before starting school for the very first time a lot of kids feel both excited and nervous. As a parent it is your job to soothe any nervousness in your child by nurturing the positive energy of excitement. You can do this by using positive language.
• Use a checklist in the mornings. During one of your conversations it will be helpful to map out the route you are going to take every morning, from the point you wake up to the point of drop off on the school playground. Morning routines are the distinction between the kerfuffle and the calmness on a school morning. Create a list together and put it somewhere everyone can see, and then stick to the steps on that list.
During school term
So you have done all of your preparations for your child’s new school term. It’s go time because that very first day is here. What do you do to make this day go smoothly?
• Prepare the night before
It is good for you to prepare the night before because it was save your valuable time and energy the next morning. But does it get better than that? Yes, depending on the age of your child you can get them to join in with the preparation too. Having your child think about what they are going to need the next day is teaching them important life skills.
Have you prepared:
1 Lunches and snacks
2 School uniform + your clothing
3 Homework and books
5 Are devices charging
6 Where are your keys
• Wake up early
By waking up early you give yourself a chance to intentionally start your day and move slowly. If you wake up 10-20 minutes earlier, you can have a slow stroll to the bathroom for your morning wee, then a slow stroll to the kitchen to make your fresh, hot cup of coffee in peace. You can take time to get yourself ready in peace so by the time the kids wake up you feel refulled and peaceful and you can be calm no matter what comes your way.
• Go slowly
Yes, we’re still going slowly, even on a school morning. Your energy impacts your children’s energy on a subconscious level so if you're calm, they’ll be more calm too. Going slowly means that you are able to be more mindful with each step in your morning routine. Starting the day this way often creates a ripple effect, creating calm and mindfulness throughout the day. Children who have a calm morning routine are more likely to be engaged in learning which is beneficial to their development.
• Use your list
Spend a few seconds double checking your list and completing the steps. The list serves as a guide for everyone. You may not need it for the entire school year but during that initial term it is going to be vital to creating a structured school morning routine.
• Use gratitude
In the energy of positivity and peacefulness for our school mornings, I am recommending finishing up your morning routine with gratitude and appreciation. A quick, “thank you for working with me so well to get ready this morning, it’s made my day.” can make a big positive difference in everyone’s day and in future morning routines. After a good morning, if we get ready efficiently the girls get time to watch their favourite educational show.