Thousands of children are about to go back to school after more than two months holiday, but there's still some uncertainty over the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of the over 12's have already been vaccinated, but health protocols will remain in place to curb infection.
There's no doubt, it’s a challenging time for children and their parents and experts say there's are ten things parents should bear in mind at the start of the new school year.
Returning to a strict daily routine at school or college can be a struggle after the holidays.
"Going back to school should be a natural process and we can make it easier by adopting similar schedules to those at school a few days before term starts," says Jordi Perales, Collaborating Professor of Psychology Studies & Educational Sciences and the UOC's Master's Degree Tutor in Learning Difficulties and Language Disorders.
"Breaking away from the usual hours and routines at school is positive for everyone and it should help the children to face the return to class, but the first days will probably be difficult for everyone,” warns Sylvie Pérez, Collaborating Professor at the UOC's Department of Psychology & Educational Sciences.
2. WhatsApp Groups
Being part of one of these parenting groups is almost inevitable and experts agree that it is not the App, but how it is used that’s the problem.
"It’s one thing to maintain good relations with the parent community and another to turn the relationship between parents into a parallel agenda that prevents children from making an effort," says Professor Nati Cabrera, from the UOC's Department of Psychology & Educational Sciences.
3. Covid Uncertainty
The current health situation is new for everyone and although, in principle, the school has guaranteed attendance throughout the course, students should be aware that the situation is still uncertain.
"Preparing for uncertainty is not easy, but children adapt easily,” says Jordi Perales, who stresses that it is necessary to keep children and adolescents informed. "Insecurity usually comes from fear of the unknown, and if adults are afraid, that fear will be passed on to their children.”
4. Extracurricular Activities
Experts say allowing children to develop their interest in music and sports and take part in extracurricular classes is a good idea, but they should not be done in a bid to get better grades.
"The acquisition of skills in primary and secondary school corresponds to guaranteeing the educational centres. We are not doing the students any favours by forcing them to repeat something in the afternoon that they've already done in the morning,” says Perales.
Most schools ask for a parent or legal guardian's permission to take photos of the children at the start of the new term and use them to advertise the centre on social media websites or in the media. Those under 14 need permission from their parents or legal guardians, but those over 14 can make their own decision. The use of an image of a minor must be delimited by the purpose determined by the Organic Law of Education, that is, the education and orientation function of the educational centre.
6. Change of Classmates
Experts say that when a child starts a new course and has different classmates, it’s important to trust their ability to socialise.
"The most important thing is not to contribute to the drama of the situation," says Perales,
Helping children with their homework when necessary is always positive, but teachers assign homework to reinforce the work done in class, so all students should know how to do it. Parents can provide explanations if necessary," adds Perales.
8. Home Schedules
“At the end of high school and post-compulsory education, students know how to manage their time, when to do their homework and how long it takes. But during the earlier years, it may be better to accompany them to determine how they are doing," says Perez. “As children grow up, it is necessary to develop trust with children and let them take responsibility for their own tasks."
9. Changing Courses
Moving from Primary to ESO, or from ESO to Baccalaureate can generate fear and it is normal to be uncertain in new situations, but the truth is that students know from an early age what their itinerary will be in school and in high school.
"Students know in first or second grade that they will move to ESO after 6th grade, so they've anticipated these changes,” says Perales.“It helps to turn the transition into something positive by explaining that it’s necessary, mandatory and natural, that their classmates have to do it too and that students from higher courses did it before them.”
Experts say it is normal for students to feel that each course is much harder than the one they have just finished.
“It is necessary for each course be more difficult than the previous one because with every year that passes, the student is able to solve more complex questions," says Perales. "However, in order to be able to adapt decisions about children, according to how they respond to each situation, parents must pay attention to how a student evolves and if they detect distress they should notify the assigned teacher, so that they can act accordingly.”