Getting back into a routine is hard, so imagine how challenging it is for children. While on holiday, we tend to break away from our routine and slow our pace. This allows us to relax and enjoy our vacation. However, holidays are also a time when you are surrounded by the luxury of treats, outings, and lots of family to keep you occupied… until suddenly, you realize it is time to get back into your usual routine.
As the new academic year approaches, how do you make it fun for children to get back into a routine? The following tips will help you do just that.
Make sure your child gets enough sleep. Easing them back into the school days’ sleep routine might be a bit difficult after they’ve had a month or so of free bed time, but it need not be! About a week before school starts, let them have their usual holiday late night and then wake them up early the next morning. Not too early that they don’t get enough sleep, but earlier than usual. Then make sure that they keep busy until about 7 or 8pm. This way, you ensure they are tired when they go to sleep, and it will be easier to start the school bed-time routine from then onwards.
Having a balanced diet is vital for good health. It is even more essential for children, who are still developing their minds and bodies. While on holiday, we tend to indulge in sweets, fast food and restaurants more often than usual. It is important to ensure that your child gets into the habit of eating regular meals that are wholesome and nutritious, especially as they prepare to go back to school. This will ensure they start the school year feeling energized, and able to fully concentrate on their studies. Fill their plate with colorful veggies, whole grains and lean protein, and watch them grow and develop to their full potential.
Monitor your child’s behavior. If they don’t get enough sleep, they might be cranky, irritable or easily distracted. They might eat less, or demand more food. These behaviors can easily be adjusted with some parental supervision and rules on how often they can go on social media or use electronic devices. Don’t let your child spend hours on the laptop or phone or playing videogames, especially late at night or right before your targeted bed-time. These activities increase brain activity and disrupt sleep. Allow your child a limited amount of time on their devices. This will help them get back into the school routine, when they will need to spend more of their time studying, and less time posting to social media.
You might think the most important aspect of back to school is shopping for the right uniform, materials and books, ready for your child’s first day back at school. It is of course essential, but comes secondary to ensuring your child is properly rested and well fed before going to school. Make sure you take them with you when you next go to the grocery store. Involve them in meal preparations, and discuss the benefits of healthier options. You’ll find they quickly learn the value of nutrition and start picking wholesome foods for themselves. As well as making sure your child has everything for their first day of school, ensure they eat a well-balanced, nutritious breakfast to keep them energized and focused on their studies.
Schools are a safe place for learning, but getting to the school can be another story if you are not careful. Transport can be a big issue, especially when you consider how congested the roads can be on the school run. Back to school means sharing the road, and with school days comes congestion. The roads become busy with school buses making their rounds and hurried parents trying to drop off their kids before work. The Qatar School Transport System has been working hard to ensure that school buses have easy access into school to ensure children’s safety. Teach your children how to safely cross the road and make sure they know where to wait for their transportation in the morning. Ensure that you leave ahead of time so you are not speeding to get to the school in time. Plan alternative routes in case of unexpected changes in the road or traffic. Most importantly, be careful to drive slowly when arriving near school zones, and watch out for children crossing near the main entrance.
Tips for Parents:
- Do not pick up or drop off the children across the street from the school.
- Do not double park—it’s dangerous because it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles.
Tips for Children:
- Lineup away from the street or road as the bus approaches.
- Wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before approaching the bus.
- Use seatbelts if available on the bus.
- Stay in your seat.
- Keep aisles clear of books and bags.
- Do not put your arms, hands, or head outside the window.
- Wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat.
- Do not shout or distract the driver in any way.
TOP TIP: Check out the Ministry of Interior’s social media for updates on the weather and traffic.
6. Be realistic rather than re-assuring
Children mimic their parents’ behavior, so make sure you are calm and collected when approaching those first days. If you are nervous or stressed, your child will pick on that and feel tense or confused. Make sure you remain positive and serene so that your child can mirror that behavior and feel confident about getting back into school.
Some children may be going to new schools or starting new chapters of their school journey, and they look to parents for reassurance. However, research suggests that if a parent reassures their child that everything will be okay and things don’t quite turn out that way, the child be unwilling to discuss the matter with parents. This then causes the child to bottle up their feelings and potentially suffer from behavioral or mental trauma. It is perfectly normal for your child to cry on their first day, they are simply trying to adjust to their new surroundings. Be >realistic with your child and help them be more comfortable about expressing how they feel and talking to you about any issues.
With vacation comes luxury and relaxation, but that may not be the case for everyone. Some children feel that they are unable to relax or do not understand how important it is for their physical and mental health. Ensure that you schedule in some family down-time, where you can cuddle up on the couch and watch a family-friendly movie, spend time in the park, or bake some goodies in the kitchen. This will allow you and your child to connect, as well as unwind from busy, activity-packed days. Make sure you also schedule some relaxing time for your child after they go back to school, especially as the first few weeks are hot, humid, and a bit overwhelming for them to handle all at once.
Make sure your child understands the new routine by repeating yourself (calmly!). The more repetition of events, activities, and words, the more likely children will follow the new rules. This also allows you to test some new additions to the routine, like after-school activities or sports, or even afternoon naps.
We spoke with the Director of School Affairs Department in the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in Qatar, Mr. Khalifa Al Derham, to find out how the Ministry is getting ready for the new school year this month.
How is the Ministry getting ready for the new academic year?
We’re ensuring that the school environment is suitable for the students by providing comfortable and age-appropriate furniture within the schools, and continuing to maintain the school buildings. The preparations also include making sure that the school cafeterias provide nutritious food, and making sure that transport is provided from the first day and is compatible with the needs of parents and students. This also includes making sure that there are supervisors available for the buses, that all positions in the schools are fulfilled and that books are available for distribution. We’re also making sure that electronic registration systems are running smoothly to ensure that parents and students know the rules and timings of their schools.
Can you tell us about the highlights and goals of the Back to School campaign?
The goal is to enhance communication between all the faculties of the education process, to prepare the students and teachers for the new school year and to make sure that the students know the importance of organization from the first day back. Other goals are to provide service, support, and counseling to the schools so they can welcome the new school year in an active way. The campaign will take place between the 15th and 30th September 2016.
As for the highlights, there are many open events in Dar Al Salam and the Gulf mall from 4pm to 10pm every weekday, and at the weekend from 2pm to 10pm. There will be testing and promotion of the visual teaching techniques, competitions of work excellence, and rules of private tutoring. There will also be a showcase of student work, in cooperation with the Information System Department, and face and canvas painting, in cooperation with the Visual Arts Department.
What safety precautions is the Ministry taking for the new academic year?
The ministry promotes student safety by ensuring schools put up educational and informative posters, show the students the evacuation plans and provide them with training on first aid and fire extinguisher use. School heads should ensure that students receive training on how to safely exit and enter school grounds and classes in an orderly fashion, and leave the school on the bus with a supervisor present. Safety instructions are provided in order to avoid any mishaps or injuries.