Prepare for a new school term

Expert educator Heather Mann shares her advice for back to school families

Heather Mann
Heather Mann

We find some useful pre-school advice from Heather Mann, principal of Dubai British School Jumeirah Park, a new Taaleem school opening next month.

Essential kit you need for that first day
As a parent you will want to make that all-important first day of school perfect. Your child’s school will have sent you information on the materials required. This varies from school to school so do review the detail as soon as it arrives. This will typically include a list of uniform requirements, lunchbox, sport kit and school supply requirements. Try to buy all items as early as possible and place in school bags. You could involve older children with preparing a checklist and take them on a special shopping trip to choose a special pen or pencil set. This will help get your child excited about school. If your child has not used any of the items before, for example a specific calculator, do allow time at home to get comfortable using these before the first day. Some schools do not allow trolley bags or specify particular items or brands so do read the guidance carefully.

Don’t forget to name everything! Label all your child’s belongings including their bag, water bottle and especially the school hat.

To build up excitement near to the start day, allow your child to try on their school uniform and to feel pride in showing their new kit off to friends and relatives.

Routine is the key to a successful start
School holidays are notorious for altering children’s well-established routines. Children will need to be eased back into the ‘early to bed, early to rise’ routine, preferably one week before the start of term. Try to plan flights back from holiday in good time to accommodate this. Involve children in setting alarm clocks; set earlier than you think until routines are established, you will probably need extra time!

To avoid the ‘getting out of the door’ morning stress, try to get up first and get yourself organised. If you’re stressed, your family will be too! Do as much as you can the night before; ensure school clothes are ready just to slip on, pack school bags and place by the door ready to pick up on the way out.

Children are expected to be independent at school. It is worth the investment of time in training them to be self-sufficient at home, so that in the morning they can get themselves ready. Even young children can help prepare a nutritious breakfast. Keep girl’s hair simple by tying back with a plain band or scrunchie. Leave fancy hair for the weekend!

Organise the whole family by setting up a family event calendar to track after-school activities, school meetings and sporting fixtures. Choose a calendar format that works for your whole family, which usually means displaying it near the phone or on the refrigerator.

Get to know your child’s preferred pattern of studying. Some children need a little downtime after a day packed with learning; others prefer to get homework quickly out of the way. Involve your child in deciding when to complete homework and what to do first when arriving home from school. Whenever it is completed, make sure that time is allocated daily, preferably at the same time and that there is a designated place without the distraction of the television. Depending on age, there will be a level of adult monitoring, supervision, and encouragement required, so make sure you leave time for this in your busy schedule. During the first couple of weeks allocate some additional family time to talk about school and to give your child the time they need.

Your attitude really matters to a child
As a concerned parent, don’t underestimate how your own feelings about school can influence your child’s attitude, confidence, and performance both socially and academically. A positive outlook can inspire children to keep performing well at school, be eager to share and complete homework and to view new opportunities and challenges with excitement and perseverance.

Emphasise all the positive things about going back to school, such as meeting old friends and having the opportunity to establish new friendship groups. Stress that the children will be able to learn new activities and sports and to generally experience the joy of learning.

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