And just like that school is back! Goodbye long, lazy mornings and hello school gates. The summer seems to have gone by in a flash and so we find ourselves frantically labelling uniforms and queuing for new school shoes in readiness for the start of the new school year.
Perhaps your little ones have already kicked off the new term. For some, the first back-to-school week starts on Monday. To help with the transition, we chatted to kids’ confidence coach Nadine Shenton, founder of Confidence in Kids – check out her top tips for a smooth start to the first few weeks back.
For many little ones, it might be their first time in a classroom. For others, a return to the classroom – after months and months of online learning – will seem daunting. As Nadine says, “This is the perfect time to lead by example so stay calm and be as prepared as you can. Yes, you may feel a little anxious about them starting school but however you’re feeling on the inside, try to convey a sense of calm. Children, especially little ones, mirror their parents so now’s the time to be positive and happy about the start of school.”
Get plenty of sleep
The summer holidays are often a time to kick back and relax so the chances are routines around sleep may have become a little lax (please tell us it’s not just us!). Nadine is a firm believer in the benefits of a good night’s sleep and the importance of a consistent routine around bedtimes. “If bedtimes have drifted, get them back on track and make sure you stick to the new routine around sleep. And I’m not just talking about the kids here! Try setting a ‘digital sunset’ around screen time to help you wind down.” The juggle is real and sleep can be the difference between a great day and a terrible day.
Make time for breakfast
Getting everyone out of the door on time can be a challenge but it’s super important to make time for breakfast. Not only it is a chance to fuel them up ready for a day of activities, it’s also a great chance to sit down and chat about the day ahead. Over to Lolly Lady and Claudi & Fin co-founder Lucy for this one…”We’re big fans of smoothies as they deliver a super dose of nutrition and taste delicious. We start with some fruit – such as a banana and some berries, then we combine with milk (or an alternative,) a nut butter and our secret ingredient – a Claudi & Fin lolly to give them an extra dose of Vitamin D, plus it chills it to perfection! You could even add some oats for some slow-release energy to see them through to the lunch bell.”
Sure, you’ll need to hold their hands a little as they start back but try giving them a sense of responsibility. Nadine is a big believer in how giving children responsibility can really help boost their self esteem. “The start of the new school year is a great time for new routines and new responsibilities. Giving your child a few age appropriate jobs is really worth starting. This will build confidence and help them take ownership of their school life. It might be something simple like letting them choose what to add to their lunchbox each day or asking them to get their book bags ready for the next school day. Make their responsibilities fun and offer words of encouragement and praise. This sense of independence is so good for their self-esteem, plus it takes some of the pressure off you too!”
It’s good to talk
New school, new teacher, new friends, new routines. The start of the new school year is an exciting time, but it can also be daunting so it’s important that we keep talking to our children. Nadine warns that they’ll be a rollercoaster of emotions as we all settle in to our new routines. “They’ll be a mix of emotions – happiness and fear, excitement and worry – so let them know that it’s okay to go through these emotions and help them understand why they’re feeling a particular way. It’s important to just be there and allow them to roll with their feelings. We can’t always fix things but we can always listen.”
Nadine advises that we spend time listening (really hearing them) and chatting to our children by getting down on their level, turning off devices and really concentrating on them. Not always easy with so much going on but by spending some time at the end of each day listening to our kids, can really help nip things in the bud.
Here’s to a great school year ahead!
Nadine Shenton is a specialist children’s confidence coach and the founder of Confidence in Kids, a children’s coaching business based in Hampstead, London. For more information please visit Confidence In Kids