Five good habits for the new school year
And breathe! The kids are back to school so you finally have a bit more freedom over your time.
At least that’s the theory.
Why does it seem that once school term starts, everything often seems to become even more chaotic than ever?
Part of the reason is that we slip back into bad habits. It’s learned behaviour from all the previous school years, and we tend to just accept it as inevitable.
But it really can be possible to make your family life easier during the coming school year, if you are prepared to make a few changes. And once you get into some new good habits you will wonder how you managed to cope with the chaos up till now.
So let’s take a look at five good habits that you can try to introduce that will make all your lives easier.
Habit 1 : Have a clear place for school information
It’s so easy for all those school letters, forms and brochures to stack up and gradually get lost under piles of other things. And in some ways, this is a little easier these days as many schools publish a lot of their information online. But whether you have a noticeboard, paper tray or folder, or online folder, have somewhere that you keep all the important school information, such as:
- Term dates.
- Details of events and trips.
- Your child’s timetable.
- Your child’s teachers’ names.
- Important phone numbers.
- Procedures for absences etc.
You will be really grateful to have all this information to hand if you are helping your child pack their bag for the next day, if they are unwell and you need to phone the school, or if you want to make sure you don’t miss a parents’ evening.
Habit 2 : Always prepare everything the night before
This is something we always intend to do but after a few days back at school tend to lose the will. Which is completely understandable after a long day. But taking a few minutes to do this can make mornings so much easier that it is really worth persevering.
So try to find a good time to do this. Ideally one that the kids can help with too. If possible you need to:
- Unpack the school bag to check if there are forms or letters, and to get rid of any rubbish.
- Check what homework needs to be done that evening.
- Repack the school bag with books and equipment needed for the next day.
- Lay out school uniform.
- Check PE kit.
- Make sure you are returning any relevant forms on time.
- Either prepare their packed lunch (if needed) or have everything ready to roll in the morning.
Habit 3 : Plan and agree your morning routine
Most homes seem to have the 20-minute monster! One minute you are doing fine for time; but the next time you look at the clock, 20 minutes seems to have suddenly disappeared.
So the key thing about morning routines is to allow more time than you think you need. You’ll be glad you did.
Just work out what time your child needs to leave home to get to school on time, building in a bit of extra time for delays. Then work back from there to build in plenty of time for them to wake up properly, get washed and dressed, and have a decent breakfast.
Even the act of planning this may make you realise that you need them to get up quite a bit earlier than they have been doing. You may have a battle on your hands to achieve this, but stand firm! Once you get into a new groove it will be much less stressful for you all.
Habit 4 : Keep on top of the homework
Schools vary on the amount of homework they give to children, but if your child does have regular homework it’s important that you agree on the best time and place for them to get this done. Some parents prefer to give their kids a break when they come in, and get down to homework later. Others just want them to get it done straight away so that the rest of the evening is clear.
If your child goes to their room to do homework, you need to check that they are actually doing it rather than multi-screening. Equally, if they do it in the same room as you, you need to make sure you are creating a quiet and calm environment for them to do their best.
There are no rights or wrongs here, you just need to find something that works for your family and that avoids last minute panics about homework not being done.
Habit 5 : Family time
Even though your child is back at school, they still need lots of input from you as well. It’s so easy for families to end up retreating into their own corners of the home, all doing their own thing and not really communicating with each other. But your child needs you just as much during term time as during school holidays.
So try to build time into your day to talk with them, find out how everything is going, and just have some fun together. If you’re all really busy and tired in the evenings, at least try and eat together and then perhaps have a family movie night or trip out somewhere every weekend. Hopefully getting a little more organised with the daily school routines will make it easier for you all to do this.
We hope that the above ideas will help you to get things running more smoothly in your home during term time, and give you more time and energy to enjoy being together as a family.
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