School routine is key

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THE end of the school summer holidays is in sight and the school routine will soon be in full swing.

And while some parents breathe a sigh of relief for the break from having to provide childcare and/or constant entertainment for their children, they should bear in mind that at the start of a new school year the sooner a routine is in place, the better for the child.

Primary school teacher and National Union of Teachers executive member Hazel Danson says that perhaps the most important preparation of all is getting the kids to bed earlier and getting them up earlier.

“Parents need to get kids back into a routine – make sure that they get plenty of sleep and go to bed on school time, not holiday time.

“It’s particularly important for younger children who might find a longer day and concentrating academically a bit more tricky.”

She stresses that if children are tired at school, it can impact more than anything on their ability to sit and concentrate.

Justine Roberts, co-founder of the parents’ social networking site Mumsnet, agrees that getting back into a school routine is important.

She said: “The problem is that during the summer, kids (and parents) can get into some bad habits, like staying up and sleeping in late, a routine incompatible with going to school. Getting kids back into their school routine is essential.”

It’s also important for parents not to get stressed-out about the new school year, particularly if children have started school for the first time, says Ms Danson. “For primary-age children, the experience of doing things with your family in the holidays is really invaluable - just things like going out for walks together.

“They learn from things they do, but not in any formal way.

“The important thing is that they come back ready to learn, and when they’re ready, that’s when teachers take over and do the academic stuff with them.”

It’s also worth thinking about the food children will eat at school, and making sure the cupboards are stocked with healthy food that they’ll actually eat if they have packed lunches. Alternatively, if children have school dinners, parents may be able to pay for some in advance on the school website.

She added: “The main thing is that children aren’t tired when they come back to school and are in or soon get in the right routine.

“The teachers pick it up from there.”