Back to School

The thought of back to school is the subject of many BBQ and poolside conversations. What is the best way to assist young people to be ready for the ‘big day’? Principal and Chief Executive of The Knox School  Allan Shaw explains.

Many young children are very positive and excited to return to school; some parents will be pleased to see the ‘kids’ back at school and most teenagers will screw up their faces and say ‘Yuck’ (or worse) at the thought of returning to school. But deep down they enjoy being immersed in the social aspect of school, if not the thought of classrooms and school work.

In brief, this is what I tell parents who ask me at those poolside or beach conversations when they find I’m a School Principal and teacher of many decades!

Get children and teenagers back into a routine. Start to get teenagers to get up earlier and work towards getting up at the normal time for school before the ‘big day’! Sleep patterns take time to adjust and this is best done as gently as possible. Proper sleep, up to ten hours per night, is what young people need. Organisation and a positive routine are good for all of us. Discuss where home work will be completed and prepare the space if necessary. Homework is best done in a quiet but public part of the home, not in a bedroom.

Discuss and make clear your expectations regarding school. You should have high and realistic expectations of what your child can achieve. In discussion, set practical, concrete and attainable goals. The goals should be ‘Goldilocks’ type goals: not too hard (unattainable), not too easy (no challenge) but just right (an attainable challenge)! Child(ren)/teenagers thrive on knowing what is expected of them and that you have high but realistic expectations of them.

Stay in touch with the key people for your children at school. Good communication is vital. In primary years of school, the key person is the class teacher.

In the secondary school years, the key people could vary a little from school to school but most schools have a ‘tutor’, a PCT (pastoral care teacher) or ‘homeroom’ teacher, and then possibly a year coordinator, head of house or even a head of sub-school as well as the individual subject teachers.

For specific subject related matters it is best to communicate directly with the subject classroom teacher.

For more general matters, the tutor or home room teacher is usually the best person with whom to build a relationship and with whom to communicate initially. Teachers like to hear good news about the students they work with and like to get to know parents. Stay gently in touch, even if it is good news!



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