Five easy steps to prepare your child for the new school term

A balanced meal

Holidays are over and it’s time for Term 2. Here are five easy steps to ensure your child is ready for the new school term (and will ensure you don’t have to pull out your hair dealing with lost stationary and replacing school jerseys).

STEP 1: Ensure all homework is completed as early in the holiday as possible

If you’re the parent of a child in Grade 11 or matric, then you are no stranger to mountains of homework everyday, tight deadlines, and sobbing children, overwhelmed by the amount of work they need to get done; usually the night before the assignment is due.

The truth is, the syllabus for the final two years of school is incredibly full, and children will often have projects or assignments due within the first week of the new term. Biology and Physics projects need to be finalised before the annual Science Expo, and English often requires learners to read their set-work novel during the holiday, as time would not allow for reading in class.

The sad fact is, during these two years, a school holiday is never truly a holiday, because there is work that needs to be done, even if it is only due at the end of the first week of the next term.

The very first thing to ask your child when the holiday begins is: “What homework do you have to hand in when you go back to school?”. If they say, “Nothing”, they’re probably fibbing.

It is essential to begin a new term with a fresh slate: make your child complete every homework assignment during the holidays, so as not to be overwhelmed by the barrage of homework he/she will undoubtedly be drowning in come Term 2. The quicker they get it done, the better the rest of their holiday will be, as they will not be bothered by the little voice at the back of their heads, constantly reminding them of everything they need to finish before school starts again.

Procrastination is a high school student’s worst enemy. As a parent, help your child realise they need to get their work done now, not later.

STEP 2: Label EVERYTHING

There is nothing worse than your child coming home with a missing blazer or without half his/her stationery. There is an easy remedy for scrounging through the Lost and Found box in the school office. All you need is a black fine-point fiber pen, a pack of sticky labels, and a lot of patience.

Labels on clothing are not just there to display the size of the garment. Take that black fiber pen and write your child’s first name, and the first letter of his/her last name. If your writing is small enough, add your child’s grade too. Repeat for every piece of the uniform.

As for stationery, you might want to enlist your child’s help, because this is where patience is key. Write your child’s name and grade on every label, and then stick it on each and every piece of stationery, from coloured pencils to rulers and protractors. Don’t forget to label all of your child’s workbooks and prescribed textbooks too, if you didn’t already do so in January.

Good luck.

STEP 3: Get back into the routine

Holidays often mean bedtime is pushed a little later, and for older children, going out on weeknights is completely normal. To avoid your child going into shock on the first day of school, start getting a set routine back in place a few days before school starts.

Re-establish a set bedtime, or the first day back at school may end in detention for sleeping in class. Studies have shown teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep a night in order to feel well-rested the next day, while preschool children should get at least ten hours a night. Depending on what time your children wake up in the morning, ensure their bedtime allows for the recommended amount of sleep.

Obviously, teens will need to accept going out on school nights is simply out of the question. The amount of homework in high school usually requires at least two hours to complete, not including breaks. Term 2 is also an exam term, so children from Grade 7 and up will need to start getting into a study routine early in the term in order to accommodate every subject’s workload.

Finally, no more take-aways and fast food. In order for children to develop, both physically and mentally, they require good nutrition. A balanced meal should contain 50 percent vegetables (peas, sweet corn, green beans etc), 25 percent carbohydrates (rice, chips, garlic bread etc), and percent protein (chicken, beef, fish etc). If the family (or your child) is on a specific diet, then the recommended meal plan accompanying the diet should be followed. Nutrition makes for a healthy body and an alert mind.

STEP 4: Stock up on healthy lunch box ideas

If nutrition is key to an alert mind, it only makes sense to ensure your child has a healthy lunch box for break to keep them nourished for the rest of day – especially if they participate in sport after school.

The best place to get good ideas for a healthy lunch box is on the internet. Visit our website, newcastleadvertiser.co.za, for some tasty and healthy ideas.

Here are a few simple examples:

– A peanut butter and banana sandwich on wholewheat bread, with a medium sized bunch of grapes and fruit yogurt

– Mozzarella and strawberry fruit kebabs with crackers and cream cheese

– Shredded chicken with cheddar cheese and mielies

– Sandwich ham, lettuce, and tomato in a wholewheat roll with carrot sticks and cream cheese

STEP 5: Set your alarm

If you were lucky enough to be on holiday with your children, or you only need to be at work after school starts, those lazy sleep-ins are over. Remember to set your alarm early enough to give your child enough time to brush their teeth, get dressed, and eat breakfast. Keep in mind children tend to fall back to sleep, even after being told to wake up. Be sure to check your little one – or teen – has gotten out of bed and is busy preparing for their first day of Term 2. You may need to pull them out of bed if their subconscious won’t allow them to wake up and face the day.

It might hurt, but the scolding your child will get from their register teacher will hurt him/her more.

These steps should ensure your child not only has a restful holiday, but that they will be prepared mentally and physically for the new term. Hopefully you won’t have to worry about buying any stationery again… until next January, that is.

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