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Back-to-school planning aids emotional balance

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

When I read the back-to-school advice given by a few websites, I realised how little I knew then and how much I still do not know about prepping a child for re-entry into the school environment after the holidays. I was also left wondering how many parents think it is necessary to strategise in order to maintain emotional balance in their children’s life after the frenzied vacation.

Compared to the holiday’s fun and laughter, gifts, shopping, overeating, and every kind of over indulgence in which we are immersed, school must be a drag for many of our returning children and adolescents. The more resilient youngsters may be better at adjusting but for the most part I think many children need help readapting. 

In fact, I propose that even parents require help and may very well do their adjusting without much consideration for the child or children’s need. The Christmas holidays are so frenetic and undisciplined I’m certain that we do not come out unscathed. Many emotional changes occur and not all are good or positive. 

How we, as parents and also teachers, reconcile the emotional welfare of our charges with the also emotional plunge back into the more disciplined learning environment depend on how conscious we are of the vagaries.

Children are generally not as expressive as we wished they’d be so, mostly, it’s the observed behaviour that gives clues to their wellbeing. Some may be immediately happy at returning to their friends and to the classroom but they may be doing so with hidden trauma and, after the dust settles, the tell-tale signs may appear, so we must remain alert.

ReachOut USA says, “Going back to school after break, like over summer or the holidays, can be hard. You might be sad that the days of sleeping in and having extra time on your hands are over until the next break. Or alternatively, you might be really excited to get back to school, catch up with all your friends and start your new classes.

On how one can be affected by going back to school, ReachOut says at the beginning it’s not uncommon to feel stressed or anxious, excited to see friends again, sad or down that break is over, pressure or expectations, from yourself or others, to perform well in school and concerned about your course load.

I recall that for me, waking up early was a real problem after the holidays. Coming to think of it, waking up early was my forever issue while in school and for a few years in the world of work, too. There was no mental preparation. My mother said wake up, get dressed and go to school and that was the general direction I got. Then there was a whole lot of quarrelling about the fact that I was so slow I would miss my own funeral, and how they’d have to beg or bribe St Peter because I was going to be too late to meet heaven’s gate open.

Little Heroes says, “Try not to make assumptions about how your (children) feel about going back to school. After a few weeks at home, they could be thrilled to be getting back to school so that they can hang out with their friends, or get back to an exciting school project.

“On the other hand, they may be dreading going back because a school bully is waiting for them or they are terrified about getting a poor test result. The most important thing you can do is to get a conversation started so you can find out how your child feels about returning to school life” (

The Web site says that in terms of children and school, it’s important that the entire family be prepared for the return to the school schedule. Overall, communication, planning, and alertness seemed to be the top measures in the advice to parents for a successful re-entry to school and the school routine for our children.