Teacher times

Neel Shah shares tips on how parents can tactfully deal with back-to-school blues

Teacher times
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The summer is over and parents are not the only ones dreading back-to-school routines. While your children may be excited to see their friends again (or grumbling about early morning wake-up calls and homework), there is a bleary-eyed teacher who also needs adjustment time (and cheering up). We speak to a few teachers and find out what their expectations are.

Be patient
The school year is a long one and things might not go as planned from the first day. You may feel your child is not being given enough attention or you are inclined to disagree with a particular approach taken. Mirva Saunamaki, class teacher at Qatar-Finland International School (QFIS) says, “You should give enough time for your child and his/her teacher to get to know each other. Trust the teachers and their professional abilities. Don’t put too much pressure and have unreasonably high expectations right at the beginning of the school year.”

Set routines ahead of time
“Create a healthy routine for sleeping, eating and family time early on, well before the school year starts,” says Sirpa Puustinen, crafts teacher at QFIS. The summer holidays with social visits and vacations can disrupt a regular schedule, but try to keep as much in place as you can. This is important for children to form healthy habits and to reduce anxiety and stress as they have more control over knowing what to expect.

Be involved
Parents might be constantly busy, but teachers will always say there’s a strong link between how successful a student is at school and how involved his or her parents are. “Know your child and be involved,” says home tutor and former science teacher Samira Sidani. “Do not expect the school system to be solely in charge of your child’s education, because a good, healthy, home-school relationship makes a huge difference in the child’s conscientiousness.”

See the world as a classroom
Education does not take place just within the walls of a classroom. See your child’s time off from school as an opportunity to complete projects and improve existing academic skills. If you are going to see family, get them to write a biography profile of family members. If they are visiting an interesting place, get them to write a diary entry or create a photo journal. The possibilities for learning are endless.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet
It’s not a cliché – a healthy diet will help your child both physically and cognitively. Students who skip breakfast will struggle later in the day. For example, if a student overeats during lunch, he/she will have sugar level spikes and that might negatively affect the child’s performance. It’s essential to keep their lunch boxes in check.

Encourage your children to pack their own bags
It’s common to blame parents or the house-help for missing exercise books and homework. To avoid this, encourage your children to take responsibility for packing their own bags and ensuring they have everything they need. The same goes for homework assignments, try to make it their responsibility to find a way to remember when the homework is due and how long they might need to finish it. It may not go down too well initially, but in the long run, this will help them become far more self-reliant and independent.

Reward efforts, not intelligence
Always remember to praise a child’s efforts and minimise the times you call them bright, smart, clever or other synonyms like this,” says Saunamaki. “Numerous studies have shown that children are more successful if they link how hard they work to their end result. If someone is told they are clever but then fail at something, it’s a blow to their self-esteem and that’s more difficult to recover from.”

Don’t be too hard on yourself or on them
“Don’t beat yourself up about mistakes you’ve made and don’t heap unnecessary pressure on your child,” says Puustinen. “Your teachers know that you are trying your best and children are all on different journeys. High expectations are as important as a loving, supportive environment.”

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