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As children head back to school

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THE Christmas and New Year festivities are over and children are back in school for the commencement of second term academic session. As usual, this development, especially considering the closeness of the resumption date to the just concluded Yuletide season, is eliciting challenges and excitement among parents, guardians, teachers and of course, pupils.

For parents whose wards particularly attend private schools, the fear of school fees is always the beginning of wisdom.  Agonizingly, in most private schools, school fees continue to soar higher, while most parents’ take homes remain poor. For those who for one reason or the other, their wards have to change school, the situation becomes more complicated.

Across the country, many schools resumed on January 7 and others will resume on January 14. Though the second term of every academic year is not as hectic as the third, it is still packed with academic and extracurricular activities.

School resumption can actually fill parents with dread and anxiety because of its huge financial implications. This is why some have cultivated the habit of paying ahead of the school resumption to forestall embarrassment. Sadly, many cannot really help the situation because their income is just too low.

Consequently, most parents are forced to go cap in hand, begging from friends and relations that are considered better off financially for assistance towards tackling this perennial problem.

No doubt, many kids will find it difficult to get back to the school routine, notwithstanding it’s just a three-week holiday. They’ve been accustomed to watching late movies, playing computer games and the social media. Yes, it’s easy for kids to become night owls when they can sleep  the next morning.

These habits can make the first week of resumption quite challenging, even for the most motivated student. With holiday festivities over, the kids need help to get back-to-school mode. We have to give them the tools they need to have a ready, set, go attitude in the New Year and academic term.

Before sending a child back to the classroom, cut on screen time and ease back to a reasonable bedtime. Take inventory of your child’s school supplies. Does he/she need refills on exercise books or pencils? Also check their school uniforms and footwears, make sure they are in order.

Help him/her return to school with pencils sharpened and notebooks organised. Parents should not send their children to school like a farmer going to farm without farming tools. It is not just right. While it is true that you may have had a PTA meeting just before the break, but then if not, you need to take a moment this month to check in with your child’s teacher about your child’s progress.

It is still early enough in the year to work on behavior or skills that could hold your child back from reaching his/her full potential in his current grades. In achieving this, there is a need to constantly keep the line of communication open. Just like at the start of the year, your child will have to get back into the habit of regular homework. The more often you can make yourself available to help your child, the better.

Mr Chinwuko,  a father of three, said, “going back to school after vacation means a lot of things have to change. My children are used to sleeping in and doing things on my time during the holidays. Now that the school bell has rung, priorities have just changed, schedules have also changed, and most importantly, my kids are not finding it funny.

My second son who is in his primary 4 even resisted going back to school. Such things do happen, but as long as you communicate with your children and set detailed schedules, everything will work out fine. Make sure to stay involved with their lives and they will greatly appreciate you for that. Of course, the older they get, they will seek more independence, but if you focus on participating in their lives as young children, they will lead a much more productive childhood and they will have more confidence during this transition.

According to Mrs Igwebuike, a mother and a civil servant, going back to school after Christmas holidays fills children with fear and anxiety. It is always good to engage your child in some kind of conversation, to find out what constitutes his/her fears. Find out if your kid is being bullied because many kids don’t tell anyone. If your kid is being bullied, go to the school, meet the school management and make sure that they will handle the situation very well. Where it is possible, seek advice from experts on how to shield your child from being a bully target.

Also, make sure that your children’s breakfast and lunch are well planned. Now that they are back to school, they need to have a good breakfast and take a second meal to school for lunch – ideally something nutritious. Studies show eating certain breakfast foods can increase memory, energy levels and improve mood and test scores. Above all, pray with your children every morning before they leave for school, hand them over to God and say some nice words to them as they run off to school.

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