And just like that, it’s September and the start of a new academic year. The summer has gone by in an (admittedly rather damp) flash and this week will see children and young people across the country easing themselves back into some semblance of routine as the new term starts. Regardless of whether your child is starting school for the first time, entering their GCSE years, is picking back up with their home education studies, or anything in between, this can be a tricky time of the year. That’s why we’ve compiled 5 of our top tips for how to gently start the year with minimal stress for the whole family.
1. Keep Weekends Quiet
It may sound like a no-brainer but why not try and keep your weekends in September as free of plans as possible? Build in time for your kids to unwind and have nothing to do as they get used to being busy five days a week again. Obviously for those of those with regular weekend activities like sports or drama clubs, this may not be possible but if you keep your weekend activities to the absolute essentials, this may help as you adjust to term-time life again.
2. Minimise chores
Going from 6 weeks of not much to 5 days of structured days (for the majority of kids) is a major change. Although it’s great to get all members of a family involved in helping with household chores, perhaps it’s worth going easy on them for a few weeks as they adjust to the increased volume of work they have. It could make all the difference to know that they can skip doing the recycling or putting away the laundry for a week or two as they get back into the swing of things.
3. Early Nights
Many of us are much more relaxed on things like bedtimes during the summer months as they don’t have a specific time to be up every day. It’s probably worth considering bringing back in a bedtime as your kids get used to getting up at 7am every day again. This is particularly pertinent for tweens and teens who naturally might be prone to going to bed and getting up late.
4. Encourage Conversation
As with many challenges we face as parents, keeping open lines of communication with our kids as they start a new school year, is really important. Perhaps they’re going back to a social situation they struggled with last year, perhaps they’re nervous about exams they’ll be facing this year, perhaps they had a tough summer and are feeling a bit wobbly. Whatever is going on with your kids, make time for them to talk. Ask them open-ended questions, give them the space to answer, don’t rush them or judge what they’re saying. They’ll feel so much more able to deal with any challenges they might be facing, knowing they’ve got your support.
5. Make Time For Fun
Try and build pockets of joy and fun into your day. Whether that’s singing along to your favourite tunes as you drive to school, curling up with a show or board game you all love in the evening, or having an impromptu mini dance party whilst you’re making meals – make sure it’s not all work as they transition back into education for another year. Having the opportunity to play and laugh with their family will help mitigate stress and anxiety they return to school.
We hope that these might be useful to some of you feeling a little bit apprehensive about starting a new term. Obviously we know that every family and child is unique so of course, none of these may resonate with you. But regardless, we wish everyone reading a gentle and positive start to the new school year and that it’s a fantastic term for you all!
Author: Hannah Durdin, Content Officer & Forest School Leader
Date: Monday 4th September