- Finally, for most of us, this is the end of our summer holidays! The new year is ahead of us and we are ready to go.
I have noticed how difficult it is for the majority of families to help their children refocus after the summer holidays. The parents are anxious because they need to meet their professional obligations and the same time they need to motivate their children to participate in a number of curricular and extracurricular activities.
Dear mummies and daddies, I may not be a mum, but I was once a kid and now a teacher. That is why I will try to summarize some tips for you and your children so that you do not get stressed but help your child cope with the new school year.
- Arrange properly the extracurricular activities of your child! What do I mean by saying this? Although I know they do it because they want to help their children, most parents end up overloading their children’s schedule and they stress them a lot. First of all, please wait for the class teacher to give you the class schedule and then organize the out-of-school activities. If a child needs a whole afternoon to learn History, Physics and to solve an enormous amount of Mathematical and Language homework sheets, then the child cannot attend the same afternoon three hours of foreign language and three more hours of music and dance lesson. Help your child set priorities. School, in any case, is your child’s first priority. Then, in accordance with this, we also arrange the extracurricular activities that can attend. I tell you this not only as a teacher but also as a perfectionist adult! Many times, even today, I push myself to work more, to read more and I end up to dislike the things that I used to like. Your child cannot be happy just by going to school, reading and eating. Children need time to play. They need at least one hour per day to play and it is even better when they play and discuss with you. Children who are in adolescence, a particularly “sensitive” period for the individual, need time and space to express themselves and love themselves. I am not in favor of the unnecessary hours in front of the computer and the new “tablet” fashion, especially for young children. During these free hours, children can play board games, paint, laugh and speak with their parents. In addition, children do not have to learn from the age of six three foreign languages, two musical instruments and four sports! Yes, it seems that I am exaggerating but there are parents who consider this situation very normal and these are examples that I have heard from them.
- Organize your child’s room appropriately! The fact that new books will be added does not mean that the absolute chaos must prevail in the child’s or adolescent’s room. It is imperative the existence of the “study corner” in the child’s room or in another area of the house. What does this mean; You use a small table and a chair so your child knows that when he/she reads or writes, it is important for him to sit there. On the other hand, I know from personal experience, that some children do not manage to focus on a desk. In any case, you give your child the initiative to choose the area he wants to read, but also how to shape it. It is important that the child shares his/her opinion with you about his/her personal space. This, of course, does not mean that parents have to spend a lot of money in order to buy a new and spacious office, library, and other furniture for the child’s room. An old small table and a chair, if they are painted with a favourite color and we add to them the imagination of children, they can create an amazing room! It would also be good to have a small library for children in order to organize their books, but the use of old shelves or even boxes may seem extremely useful, too. Also, if the walls are empty, a clever idea that we followed last year with one of my students is hanging posters on the walls with the hardest points of each lesson. In this way, students are helped in their repetition and better assimilate the points of each lesson which make them feel confused.
- We can encourage our children to study! Yes, a few years ago, I used to believe that children should know that they must study! But, we talk about children, not about adults who live their lives and have learned the value of education. We have to talk to our children about how important it is to give their best at school. I am sure that children understand and will appreciate these conversations in the future. In addition, you praise your child for all the efforts he/she does during the year and you should not be disappointed if/she he fails in a lesson. No one can be perfect: Some children are good at Mathematics, some are good at Arts, some at Grammar … Help your child give his.her best everywhere, but if you discover that he has a certain talent, help your child cultivate it and do not push him/her to bring the same results in all areas. Some people paint magically, others sing amazingly, researchers have changed the world with their discoveries and so on… We cannot have the same results and it is important that the child from an early age realizes it and lives with that truth. However, we praise our children for all the efforts they make and we urge them to continue to try. On the other hand, it is important that children who repeatedly disappoint us with their indifference – yes, there are students who ask them to focus on something specific and to improve and they still do not listen – should learn to accept the consequences, such as a lower grade. As a teacher, I cannot compare a student who always does his/her best with a student who simply does not care. On the other hand, as an educator, I always appreciate the effort that a student does and not how fast he/she does it, meaning that I do not mind if one my students needs ten minutes to solve the exercise and the other one needs five. Parents can also offer to their child who is trying hard at school a walk in the park, a playdate with friends and classmates or even watching a movie and eating pizza. We all need motivation to work, and of course our children need the same!
I would like to wish from the bottom of my heart a nice and creative year to all of you and especially to all the students!