As the nights get cooler and a large chunk of the summer is behind us, we start to contemplate the challenge of resuming our usual routine after being set adrift for a few months. Not surprisingly, the mere thought of wrenching ourselves from a responsibility-free existence can elicit groans of resistance.
But while any change can be tricky to navigate, getting back into the swing of things can be exciting and fun rather than laborious or even tortuous, depending how you prepare the ground.
Here are some tips to turn this daunting prospect into something students will take in their stride, if not welcome with open arms:
- Before the start of the school term, practise the art of concentration by introducing light but gentle thought-provoking games, such as Articulate, Hedbanz, Who Knows Where or the tried and tested Trivial Pursuit, not to mention chess and bridge, the latter a game played regularly by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and described by author W. Somerset Maugham as “the most entertaining and intelligent card game the wit of man has so far devised.”
- Start structuring your day and get into a routine. This does not have to mirror the school routine. In fact, it can revolve around physical and leisure activities, as long as it helps to rebuild stamina and self-discipline.
- Get the intellectual juices flowing again by organising a family ‘field trip’ to a local science museum or an art gallery, setting a task beforehand to keep the visit active. However simple, this kind of involvement can trigger a thirst for knowledge.
Goals: the sky’s the limit
- Whatever your personal best, it can always be improved on. This applies to sport and other activities too. A degree of foreknowledge about the year’s syllabus can help make objectives more specific, enabling eager beavers to anticipate trouble spots and research or simply mull over areas of particular interest. Keeping one step ahead helps to allay any academic anxiety as the chances of a better outcome, though not guaranteed, are definitely increased.
Let’s get organised!
- There is nothing like a cosy, inviting environment to make homework or swotting less tedious and more productive. Turn a corner of your room into the control ship for engineering your future, furnishing it with attractive stationery that will promote efficiency. Then take charge.
- Keep a diary for ticking off achievements.
Keeping it fresh
- School is not exclusively about studying, of course. The social element coupled with activities that will develop other skills and talents are also significant. Students are more likely to feel eager to start the term if they sign up to a new activity that they have either always wanted to do. Discussing what this might be can whet their appetite for the new school year as the possibilities spring to life before them.
In the loop
- For students who have been out of touch with their school friends over the holidays, hooking up in the final weeks or days before term can help pave the way for a softer landing as term time kicks off.
Anxiety is a very normal human emotion and one that thrives if given too much attention but also if it’s ignored. Expressing anxiety and having it listened to can help to diffuse it. According to psychotherapist Erin Leonard, author of
How to Raise a Secure Child, Parenting with Empathy, “The recipe for helping a child with their back-to-school worries is simple. Contrary to popular opinion, it does not require elaborate discussions about feelings, nor does it necessitate the parent to do any strategising, fixing, or problem-solving. The requirements for raising an un-anxious child include empathetic listening and reassurance.”
- A lack of sleep will often fuel anxiety. Getting up a little earlier every day in the last few weeks/days of the holidays will make it easier to bring bedtime forward.
Teachers at King’s are experts at creating a welcoming, comfortable environment that works to soothe anxious minds. As Paula Parkinson, Head of Primary at King’s College, Madrid, points out: “There’s an atmosphere around the school of caring for one another that is very unique to King’s. The relationships among the staff are very strong and the relationships between the pupils and the staff are equally so. Because of the structures and the way we work, we still know the students really well and this community feel comes through very strongly, despite the growth of the school.”
According to English teacher, Paul McNally, at King’s College, Madrid, this supportive environment is jealously guarded.