A long break from school is what all children look forward to, in fact most of them start counting the days from the beginning of term! Whether it’s the Christmas holidays or the long summer stretching out ahead of us, we all know that this is a time when routines change and we have time to be together as a family.
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In a perfect world…
In an ideal world, parents wouldn’t have to worry about working in the school holidays, keeping the house clean or doing any shopping. Every day would be a holiday and we would spend our time in the park or on the beach just chilling out. If only! Real life isn’t quite like that, and although most of us do manage to get away for a few days now and then, a long period of time without proper routine can have quite an impact on a child’s behavioural patterns.
Schedules, timetables and forward planning
Any kind of routine will be disrupted during a long break from school, and your children will quickly get used to the fact that they do not need to get up early, pack school bags the night before and do their homework. There will be a lot of watching TV, playing computer games, meeting up with friends and generally lazing about (particularly if you have teenagers!) This is all fine, and as it should be, but in the couple of weeks before your children return to school it is a good idea to try and get them back in the old routine.
Encourage early nights, plenty of fresh air, exercise and reading books rather than being glued to games consoles or the TV. This is no easy task, but if you leave it too late in the holidays before you return to school you will run the risk of facing a potentially volcanic eruption when you dare to mention that it’s almost time to go back to school!
Preparation is the key. Expect your children to behave in a slightly different way once they return to their normal school routine. Chances are they will have missed their friends, and despite their inevitable protestations, most children respond well to routine and boundaries. Once the first few days or the first week is over and done with they will have almost forgotten about lazy mornings in front of the TV and no homework deadlines!
Watch for the signs
You will find that your children are weary and irritable when they return to school after a long break and this is only to be expected. Try to keep after school activities to a minimum for the first couple of weeks just so that they can really settle back in to their work at school, and get a grip on any homework that they need to do. Early nights are an essential element for a happy and stress free household, and try to keep mornings calm and organised. Pack bags and make packed lunches the night before, make sure school uniforms are washed, ironed and easily accessible and that all travel arrangements are confirmed the day before. Start using your family planner again to make sure that everyone knows where they have to be and what equipment they will need for each day. Before you know it, any niggling back to school behaviour will have settled down and everything will be back to normal!