Just for a moment: put yourself in your child’s shoes. You get up, ask for breakfast, get changed and start preparing for your big day of big school. Who will I play with today? Did Mum pack enough lunch? I just want to play on that big jungle gym.
Have you ever ‘flipped your lid’ and lost control of your emotions? Have you felt ‘hangry’ and snapped? Lost concentration while reading and had to re-read a sentence? Or had times when you know your expected to be somewhere but no matter what you do, you just haven’t got the energy?
Kids have these problems at school too. It’s our role as parents to help prepare their little bodies for the big school transition as best we can from our end. Daycare for toddlers and school for kids is just as tiring for their brains as a working day is for adults.
5 TIPS TO HELP AGES 4-8
FRUIT SNACK ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL:
If your child gets up early like mine, they will have had breakfast at 6 or 6:30 and they won’t get to eat till 10:30. That’s 4 hours till the next meal for energy. I give my son a banana or yogurt in the car on the trip over to school. This will give him that extra energy to get through reading groups, spelling tests, maths tests and literacy writing. Most primary schools will have literacy and some numeracy in the first session of the day for year levels. It’s the most important part of the whole day; in terms of learning. Give your child that extra energy with a snack to help them concentrate for longer and be an active participant during class.
SCHOOL READING GROUPS:
Parent helpers are always wanted at school. If you can spare an hour, once a week for a term, your help will be soaked up. It’s more likely your child’s teacher will be grateful for parent reading group leaders or offer your help to another class. You can get to know the other students and build relationships with them. I enjoy getting to know the different little personalities. I know my son watches me when I’m in class with him and kind of enjoys seeing me engaged in what’s going on in his life.
The point I want to make is… to ask questions about what type of reading program the school has and what level your child is at. Gauge for yourself what words or sounds they are focusing on for the week, and when you’re doing homework with your child or enjoying reading together, you can challenge your child at home in everyday reading.
HOMEWORK BEFORE SCHOOL; RATHER THAN AFTER SCHOOL:
My son comes home from school absolutely cranky and exhausted. He’s been ‘good’ all day. As soon as he gets in the car I’m dealing with a zombie and there is no point filling the afternoon with tantrums and tears over homework. Thankfully he goes to bed early and gets up early, so after breakfast and brushing his teeth the next thing for him to do is homework. We own a small business, and often family meals don’t happen every night around the table together. However, family mornings we’re all together and this is a great time to make one on one time with him helping him with his homework. We have a no TV policy in the mornings until after Homework has been completed so it’s kind of the reward for getting it done. I’ve timed this. If we do afternoon homework it can take around 30-40 minutes but in the mornings it takes 15-20 minutes which also means less of my time. I’ve also checked his spelling test marks and they were lower when he did afternoon homework as compared with higher scores when doing homework at his most alert time of the day. Test your routine and see what results occur for you child.
AFTER SCHOOL PLAY:
Play is a way of winding down after a long day of learning. Whether it’s chilling out watching TV, building Lego, kicking a ball or jumping on the trampoline. It’s important to have wind down like we need to as adults.
I admit, this part of the day I will let go of all healthy food and let my kids have whatever they want from the pantry. A part of me misses them during the day and I want them to feel a sense of off-loading and comfort at home after a big day.
There’s no real time limit on afternoon play. If my kid is halfway through building a castle in the sandpit, I’ll let him finish it before having a shower and getting ready for dinner. If he feels he needs to jump 10 more flips on the trampoline, go nuts kid, whatever. He knows dinner will be ready soon and if his brain is telling him that to wind down then it’s okay to not have to control his play. Unless there’s a thunder storm and lightening then I might have less patience. What I’m getting at is allow your child the flexibility to wind down and finish off what will give them play peace of mind.
It’s pretty much the last thing I want to do at night. I just want my kids to get to bed so I can wind down myself and binge watch Blacklist on Netflix. BUT! I know that this is just a stage and eventually all my nights spent reading will pay off when they start reading their own chapter books in bed and most of the books my kids choose give us a laugh and a cuddle in bed. One thing I will say is I don’t have time to read a book to each individual child, so they take it in turns who chooses a book at night and I read it to the whole clan. Never underestimate the power of using silly voices for different characters and almost always skip sentences if you need too!! HINT: The top sentence on every page is enough to read if you really need to get those feral kids to bed.
These days can certainly feel long but we all know the years are short. Sometimes it’s hard but it’s certainly important to recognise our own reactions to school tantrums and understand that they are simply their brains flipping their lid. They need empathy and kindness and a whole of more patience while they are having big school days.
You got this!
Written By Sarah Courtney,
Mum of 3, Wife of 13 years, Blogger, & Early childhood Teacher.