Written By: Nigel Sloane (Headmaster at Pecanwood College: Preparatory)
We have all experienced it before. As you are getting into the car to go to school, your six year child reminds you that she needs something for “show and tell” that begins with the letter “Y”. You are already late for school and now spend the next twenty minutes looking for a yo-yo or a toy Yak!
The result of this sort of thing is a stressed and worried youngster arriving at school, who will not give of her best at school for the day. Not only that, but you as a parent are probably also stressed and up-tight knowing that you are going to be late for your eight thirty appointment.
The secret is to do as much as you can the afternoon/evening before and look at the various aspects of a school day. To do this you need to have a school calendar, fixture list and make sure that you are up to date with school happenings. Reading the school newsletter and keeping up to date with the homework diary will give you a head start. As with all things, planning and preparation are the key. A well placed white board with all the week’s happenings is also a very good idea.
Preparation is the key:
Time needs to be spent every afternoon or evening listening to reading, helping with whatever homework that there is and generally ensuring that your child is up to date. Make sure that you have read the homework diary and that everything needed is in the bag for the next day. This includes stationary, library books and any items such as a toy for “show and tell”. Do all of this in conjunction with your child so that they can learn about planning and independence.
Check the diary or fixture list and see if any sports clothing is required. In summer there may be days when swimming takes place and it is essential that the costume is in the bag. Throw in a towel and warm clothing if needed. If there are regular item such as hats or sunscreen, make sure that these are in the bag. Leave the bag in an easily accessible place near the front door. Once again, involve your child in the process.
Get that lunch box and juice ready. Either have it in the fridge if there is something perishable, or actually put it in the school bag.
Set out the clothes and shoes for the next day on a chair in the bedroom to ensure a speedy get up and go session in the morning. This will avoid the shock of discovering in the morning that all her socks are still in the washing machine.
Other tips to avoid problems include making sure that all clothes, sporting items and all personal possessions are labeled. Hopefully this will cut down on items going missing and causing more stress in your preparation.
Plan the breakfast and set it out if possible the night before. If you can encourage your child to get started on their breakfast without supervision, this in itself will save you precious time.
With time, hopefully you will be able pass on many of these responsibilities to your child so as to create an independent and responsible youngster who can do things for themselves. As parents it is vital that we teach children how to look after themselves; however they do need to learn these processes. These are not skills that children will just acquire, but rather that they need to be taught.