We all love Christmas and making memories with friends and family away from school. It’s a time where we can take a break from our routine and spend quality time with people we love.
However, the new year comes around fast and we want to help you be as prepared for heading back to school as possible!
With late nights, parties and so much fun, how can you ensure your children are motivated to attend school and get back into a routine of learning to make sure they have a successful year?
In this article we will explore what you can do to help your child get back into a routine and start the new year on a positive note.
1. Establish a routine with consistency
The number one tip that I’m sure you hear often is to get your children back into a routine.
The holiday period is fun but it can be disruptive and the excitement surrounding Christmas can be a distraction from routine. With fun things to do and places to visit, you will find that they might be eating at different times of the day or resting when they would normally be having dinner.
Establishing a routine can have more of an impact on your child’s everyday life than you would expect.
Routine and consistency keep us all on track, no matter our age and stage of life. This is particularly important for children. Consistency with their daily tasks will help children become motivated and involved. It can be a way of bonding the family together and it can help establish rules; if there is a habit in place that helps them know when they should sit down for family dinners, tidy up their toys or brush their teeth, they will be more motivated.
Routine also gives children a sense of security where they can rely on their parents and have their needs met. It can also help children fight anxiety. Being able to see why certain habits should be carried out at certain times will ensure they can be disciplined in their lives when they are older and ultimately lead to a happier, healthier existence.
Here are some of our top tips for establishing a routine successfully:
- Come up with the routine with your child so they can feel part of the process. This will make them feel valued and as a result they will follow the routine more strictly.
- Create a written version of the routine; drawing, writing and colouring in a sheet of paper with your child where the routine is established will make them involved and they will be excited to create something themselves. Use pictures cut out from magazines and add fun stickers to make it enjoyable.
- Ensure that the timings for the routine are realistic; don’t underestimate how long it takes your child to complete certain tasks.
- Remember to praise your child’s wins and mark the occasions when they are successful, they will be more likely to stick it that way.
2. Ensure a strict sleeping schedule
Going to sleep at a later time can quickly push kids out of a healthy sleeping pattern. And around the festive period, we tend to see a lot more late nights - family gatherings, eating later and, of course, waiting up for santa!
But don’t underestimate the importance of sleep…
A recent study found that 1 in 4 children in the UK don’t get enough sleep and that children who don’t sleep enough are more at risk of being overweight. Sleep is also essential to ensure cognitive development. When we sleep, our brains perform important functions that enhance our abilities on a daily basis. Important hormones that help with brain development are released during sleep and our brains recharge and process information we have absorbed during the day.
It is therefore so important to establish a strict sleeping routine for your child. After the festive period, children may find it difficult to get to bed earlier but it’s vital that you try and re-establish their bedtime routine in the new year.
Starting your bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier every evening during the week leading up to them going back to school is the best way to do this. That way, the 7am wake-up call isn’t such a shock on that first day back!
3. Openly talk about feelings with your children
In any situation it is important to speak with your children about how they are feeling and make sure they’re comfortable opening up to you.
It’s particularly important as they head back to school after an extended break. There might be some changes to your child’s schedule or classes in the new year or they may have ended the last term with problems with teachers or friendships where they might have to deal with some difficult experiences.
Make sure they know their classroom schedule in advance to reduce stressful situations and work with them to feel excited about going back into the new year and seeing their friends again. And encourage them to meet with friends and catch up after the break. It’s fun to exchange stories about the holidays and what they did for Christmas!
Listen to any anxieties they might have, listen to them actively and consider what they are feeling. Create an atmosphere where you also open up about your feelings so they know that it’s okay to admit they’re feeling certain emotions. Ask questions but equally don’t push them to answer if they don’t feel like talking.
4. Stay in touch with the school and their teachers
Having a relationship with your child’s teacher is important. Being in contact with their teacher means you will be aware of what’s going on at school and you can address any problem areas when necessary.
Before the school holidays, check in with them about any tasks that are due in the first week back, or ask them what topics will be coming up so you can help your child feel prepared.
Knowing what is going on at school such as what classes your child is doing well in and what areas aren’t going so well also means you can better understand your child’s mood each day and whether certain subjects are affecting their motivation to attend school. Being aware of this means you can then begin to address any areas where there is difficulty.
5. Encourage down time
During the Christmas holidays, it’s easy to create jam-packed days of celebrations, visiting family and doing things that are out of the ordinary.
Taking time to relax and just give your brain a break is important for anyone so you should be encouraging down time with your children where possible.
In fact, studies show that we are our most creative and some of our best ideas come to us when we are ‘bored’ aka relaxed! Check out this TED talk which shows us why it’s important to take time out.
Similarly, when you are getting back into school after the holidays remember that although it’s good to be busy and to take your child to activity clubs and to meet friends, it’s also good to set some time aside for chilling out, reading, watching a movie together, eating a nice meal as a family or just doing what they enjoy doing to relax and give their minds a rest.
6. Stay active!
The impact of the covid-19 pandemic and keeping ourselves locked up indoors has lead to an unfortunate increase in children and adult mental health problems.
Between April and September 2021, there was an 81% increase in referrals for children and young people’s mental health services compared with the same period in 2019. It is therefore more important than ever to keep an eye on your child’s emotional wellbeing.
Keeping active and spending time outdoors (even in the cold weather) are good ways to maintain positive mental health. Particularly around Christmas, we can find ourselves indoors at events, eating copious amounts of not-so-healthy food so it’s good to make a special effort to get out during this time.
Plan some fun things you can do and get them into an active routine to encourage and maintain a positive mindset.
7. Monitor technology usage
Managing screen time is every parent’s worst nightmare and trying to control a child’s usage can be a difficult task so it’s important that when you’re getting back on track after the holidays you set some boundaries for using technology.
We all love a christmas movie and I’m sure your children enjoyed that extra bit of screen exposure during the holidays as a treat but it’s good to keep this as a special treat and not something that they can do everyday.
Set a specific time in the evening dedicated to screen time and stick to that strictly. It is recommended that children watch no more than two hours of television per day and that screens are removed from the room where they sleep as too much exposure to the blue light that screens emit can disrupt their sleeping patterns and cause tiredness during the day.
Ask your children to put their devices in another room when they sleep and encourage reading time just before bed, too - this will make sure they have a hobby to do at night before they sleep that doesn’t involve screens.
Ensuring you have good boundaries when it comes to technology usage in the home will allow your child to get back into a good routine, establishing a positive start to the year.
8. Encourage positive friendships
Going into the new year can sometimes mean changes have happened in school and some pupils may have different teachers or classmates. Although this is more unusual around christmas time it can still be the case.
Prepare your children for any changes that may come and encourage them to continue establishing strong friendships with other children and classmates. Ask your children about their friends and encourage them to invite friends along to activities or invite them over for dinner.
The more interest that you as a parent show in you child’s friendship circle the more they will open up to you about any issues that arise.
9. Maintain consequences for bad behaviour
Discipline is a part of every parent’s life and it’s something that is important to master early on so your child is used to rules being set and are more disciplined themselves.
But throughout the school holidays, with changes to routines, it’s easy to let things slide.
Ensure the same household rules apply throughout the Christmas holidays as discipline is especially important when it comes to getting back on track. Establishing boundaries and making it clear that bad behaviour will come with consequences can make life easier when they go back to school.
10. Provide incentives and praise for good behaviour
We all love being rewarded and children are no different.
Children thrive when they are rewarded for good behaviour and rewards can be a great incentive for consistency in this good behaviour.
Using different incentives such as extra screen time or a nice dessert or a trip to the play centre can all be good ways to motivate children to perform and behave well when they’re back at school.
Using rewards can also encourage positive behaviour and when children are positive they will be better at sticking to their routine as they start school again after christmas.
Grab our FREE rewards chart to get started.
Learning Cubs can help your child to succeed this school year!
If you want to start the new year off on a positive note and get your child stuck straight into learning and developing again, why not try a different approach?
At Learning Cubs, we offer after school clubs where children can learn and meet new people and gain essential skills they will use throughout school and in their futures.
This January, we want to ensure parents are beginning the year on a positive note and setting their children up for success in school.
Get in touch with your local centre to find out more!