After the long summer holiday, the youngsters are, at last, heading back to the classroom. Some may even be venturing to big school for the first time or leaving home for boarding or university. Over the coming pages, we’ve looked at ways to get the little ones (and parents) into a good routine and how to help your travellers cope with flying the nest. There are also some great ideas for cool gadgets to make the end of the holidays and push back to academia that little bit less stressful. And, to add the fun element, get your teens and tweens to tackle our quirky quiz to find out where their future might lie.
Going back to school or college after the lazy days of the long summer holiday can present challenges both for kids and parents. We’ve got you covered with tips to make the transition a bit easier.
Best Meal Of The Day
Make sure both you and your kids eat something before they head out the door. You may all have got into the habit of grabbing something mid-morning but it’s really important that they have brain fuel to concentrate before they get to class. Peanut butter and wholemeal toast is a great way to start the day and, if they really don’t want to eat first thing, it can always be wrapped for when the hunger strikes. Healthy after-school snacks are also important, so they don’t fill up before dinner. Make sure you stock up on fruit, yoghurts and other things they might like that won’t be over filling.
There’s nothing worse than sitting at your desk and struggling to keep your eyes open (trust us we know). Imagine how much worse it must be if you’re feeling like that and, at the same time, trying to take on board new facts and knowledge. Going back to school means getting back into a bedtime routine to make sure your kids have enough sleep to get them through the rigours of the day. If they, or you, are having trouble getting to sleep due to all the excitement of the new term, try relaxation sounds to help them nod off.
Keep It Clean
It’s an established fact that when kids start school, they initially pick up lots of germs from their new friends. The same can be said when they return to the classroom after a long break. Make sure their vaccinations are up to date and do some education about hand washing and sanitiser use before they head out the door to keep the worst of the lurgies out of your home.
Save The Date
Create a family calendar so everyone can see what’s coming up – when does PE kit need to go to school? When is Fatima’s birthday party? What’s planned for the weekend? – it gives everyone things to look forward to and helps stay organised. You could also include a homework timetable to keep your youngster on track.
Limit Screen Time
Yes, it might not be a popular one but, given the amount of lesson time spent on screens, it’s a really good idea to limit screen time at home. Make a plan that you and the kids can agree on and instead try to spend that time doing something as a family – yes, that means parents also have to limit their screen time, which may not be a bad thing.
MAKING THE MOVE
With the start of the new academic year, many students will be making the transition from local schools to boarding or university overseas. It’s an exciting time of making new friends and gaining maturity. However, it can also present some nerves, both for students and parents, and it may feel overwhelming trying to juggle everything at once. Us these suggestions from St George’s University, Grenada, to help everyone cope.
Students may miss their former school community. So, it’s important for them to stay connected with their social circle, family and friends. Setting up WhatsApp groups in advance of leaving can help with this. What’s equally as important is staying connected to themselves and being in touch with their own emotions. Journalling about personal experiences and expressing the feelings that accompany these events is always better than bottling them up.
Being organised can help students adapt more smoothly to their new surroundings and responsibilities. For example, students can more efficiently plan what they would like to do during the first week on campus if they have organised their agenda in advance. This habit will also help them plan other areas in their life, such as organising their schedule to know when to study and when to take time out.
Don’t Make Comparisons
Students going overseas might find themselves thinking that other people are managing the transition better than them, but this can be detrimental to their confidence and well-being. All students will have come from different backgrounds and it’s important that they focus on their own goals and progress.
Connect With Peers
It’s always a good idea for students to connect with the cohort who planning to go to the same place before the academic year starts. It will help enhance the student’s overall experience and ease the transition into a new academic environment. Building a network of friends even before arriving could give a sense of belonging and support.
Learn To Relax
Learning how to relax will not only help students as they psychologically prepare themselves to start university or boarding school, but it will also help during stressful exam periods and in other aspects of life they may encounter in the future. Practising relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation, muscle relaxation exercises, deep breathing and mental or guided imagery could help students focus on being calm and thinking clearly.
To summarise, some students may find the transition to boarding school or university life stressful, especially if it involves travelling abroad. However, there are ways to cope with the anticipation of making new friends, academic pressures and leaving familiar support systems behind. If students still find themselves looking for guidance, they should not be shy about asking at their school or university, which will be experienced in dealing with various issues.
THE BACK-TO-SCHOOL STARTER PACK
The new school year, which starts this month, typically ushers in a frantic shopping phase. But it doesn’t just have to be about new trainers and backpacks. This list of carefully selected fun and functional items will give you some ideas on getting kids prepared. And it could make things just that bit more exciting this term.
Alarm On Wheels
If you or your kids are night owls, waking up for school can be a task. This extra loud alarm, ideal for heavy sleepers, can roll down a night stand around a metre high. And you/they will have to get out of bed and chase it to switch it off – who’s sleepy now?
Smart Water Bottle
With back-to-back classes, who can remember to hydrate? Get your youngsters to carry this high-tech bottle with LED-light reminders and Bluetooth to track water intake. It comes with a fast-charging cable and can be tracked via an app if misplaced.
Bento Lunch Box
Can’t decide what to pack for lunch? This leak-proof box lets users enjoy variety without the hassle of food mixing together; there’s one compartment with its own lid ideal for liquids such as soups. The bottom level holds hot water, keeping things warm.
Wooden Eyeglass Holder
Homework time just got better with new accessories for the study table. This doggy display stand holds spectacles and is too cute to ignore. Plus, it’s good to have a designated spot so kids don’t have to frantically look for their specs before school.
THE BEST CARD COMPANY
Lots of kids will be meeting friends for the first time after the long summer break. They can let their mates know how much they missed them with these quirky, illustrated notecards. They come in a pack of 10 with envelopes and are blank inside for a personal message.
Colour Changing Pencils
What’s life without a bit of whimsy! These fun pencils change colour when they’re in use because of a change in temperature – body heat. They have inspirational quotes carved on them too – get kids motivated as they work.
4-IN-1 Multifunctional Lamp
Late-night assignments won’t be a hassle and there’ll be no more burning the midnight oil with this LED mood-lighting lamp which also functions as an alarm clock. Bluetooth, surroundsound speakers let users listen to music as they work. They can also control brightness via an app or voice-control.
If there’s a football match or swimming class after school, fit all the gear in one bag. There are separate ball and shoe compartments, as well as sufficient storage for a laptop or iPad, keys, wallet, bottle and other belongings.
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GET YOUR DREAM JOB!
The new school term starts this month and for many, this year will be foundational. They will have to decide which stream to pursue or at least make a list of prospective courses. Personality plays a huge role in deciding future careers, so get your teens to take this fun quiz and find out what career they’re best suited for.
What time do you wake up on a school day?
(A) School day or weekend, I have a timetable.
(B) 5am. I start the day with a workout.
(C) Darn it! I’m going to miss the bus again.
You’re in a library. You pick…
(A) Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer.
(B) Audio book okay?
(C) Hang on, let me get my TBR list
(To-be-read – if you don’t know this, you’re not a C!).
What is your favourite back-to-school lunch?
(A) Lox cream cheese bagel, please. No capers.
(B) Fruit and some crackers.
(C) Umm, I don’t know. A cheese toasty?
You’re at a coffee shop. You…
(A) Compare it with 10 other cafés you’ve been to.
(B) Order a cold brew and an açaí bowl to go with it.
(C) Read the quotes printed on the paper napkins.
What’s your favourite after-school activity?
(A) Have signed up for piano lessons this year.
(B) Football. No wait, that’s on Tuesday. Today’s swimming.
(C) It’s too hot out! Plan to curl up with my Kindle.
The local club is organising an international tour. You
(A) …are ready! Saved up interning at the NGO last summer.
(B) Pack a rucksack.
(C) Talk the organiser into making you the tour captain and bag a free trip.
It’s an exam day so you decide to beat the stress by…
(A) What stress? I’m always prepared!
(B) Going for a long run.
(C) Gosh! My deadline’s tomorrow and I haven’t started my assignment yet.
You’re nominated as school prefect. Your first thought is…
(A) Wait, let me whip out my plan for the coming year.
(B) Yeah! I love a good challenge.
(C) Well, I’m a smooth talker.
What subjects do you love at school?
(A) Maths, science, languages, history—I’m an all-rounder.
(B) Football. I’m on the school team.
(C) Foreign languages. I love culture.
An argument erupts in class. You…
(A) Pick a side.
(B) Ignore it – none of my business.
(C) Jump in and resolve the fight.
You’re ambitious and know exactly what you want. Be it at school or in life, you don’t settle for anything less than excellence. A straight-A student, you have your day planned down to the most minute detail. You will be a hit in managerial or leadership positions. Perhaps, the CEO of your own company!
You’re always raising the bar for yourself. At school, you win virtually every sporting tournament. Late night parties – that’s not for you. You’d rather hit the beach or walk the dog. You’ve most likely tried out every energy drink there is! You will perform exceptionally as a Zumba instructor or a gym owner. Maybe make it on the national sports team!
My dear! If there’s someone who’s cracked the code to a happy life, it’s you. People might see you as laid back, but you know that time enjoyed isn’t time wasted. You’re an incurable procrastinator. However, you thrive under pressure. You’re the next bestselling author and will reign as a media mogul. You have the power to conquer with your charm.