It's back to school time!

Its back to school time!

Whether you're a teacher or a parent, getting back into the school routine requires some preparation; we speak to some residents to find out how they cope

By Enid Parker/Neha Mahamood

Published: Sat 31 Aug 2019, 10:11 AM

Last updated: Tue 3 Sep 2019, 1:02 PM

As a kid growing up in the city in the 80s, the two-month summer vacation was something we always looked forward to. We couldn't wait for school to close for the holidays. Then we would either travel to our home countries with family or stay back in Dubai and while away the days watching TV, playing downstairs or at home. Either way, we were always happy to get back to school in September having exhausted all ideas and ways of amusing ourselves. I'm sure our parents were relieved too once September rolled around! We spoke to UAE-based teachers and a parent about how they prepare for the back to school routine that will be thrust upon many residents very soon.
How do you prepare for the transition from vacation mode to school?
After an unstructured summer travel, I like to establish routines in my personal life. Structuring what I am going to eat throughout the following week, when I'm going to have down time, when I'm going to go to bed and developing a morning plan are all things that help me get ready for the new academic year.

Is there anything you do to help your students get reaccustomed to the change?
Developing relationships is always the main focus when school starts again. Promoting a school environment where children feel trusted enables them to feel safe. In addition, building 'hooks' into lessons inspires curiosity. This curiosity becomes the fuel for inquiry, creating a passion for learning and a desire to be in the classroom.

Do you have tips for parents?
Make sure to attend the 'meet the teacher' meetings at school as these will help keep you well informed with plans for the upcoming year and will help relieve any anxious feelings you may have. Although developing routines is important for me as a teacher, promoting independent 'back to school' routines is just as important for children. Start establishing sleeping patterns, eating habits and academic routine (home learning and reading with parents etc.) sooner to benefit children's readiness for going back to school.

What helps when you or one of your students are having a bad day?
Understanding that it is okay to not be okay is a principle I always promote within my class. Hopefully, by developing trust as mentioned earlier children feel more comfortable sharing their worries. For those who struggle with communicating their worries, I use a 'I wish my teacher knew' box so that children can anonymously share their worries. They can also post random facts and compliments which are always lovely to read when I'm having a bad day.
What keeps a teacher happy?
A coffee in one hand and a diary in other helps makes a teacher happy. Having an idea of what is happening throughout the week helps me keep on top of things and the coffee. did I mention the early get ups?

What's the cutest/funniest thing a student has done for you?
Last year, at the end of the year, my class all pitched in and created an 'All About Mr. Blakemore' brochure. Each child answered the same questions: My Teacher always says? My teacher is amazing because? etc. It was fantastic to see the unique characteristics that the children had picked up on, noting it down on their sheets. The brochure was full of compliments and definitely one I know will make me smile when I pick it up in the future.
Thomas Blakemore is a Year 3 Junior School Teacher and Humanities Coordinator at Kent College, Dubai.

How do you prepare for the transition from vacation mode to school routine?

Transition can affect all areas of development such as emotional, intellectual, physical and physiological. Being a teacher I suggest to all parents that bedtime should slowly go back to normal. In a situation where you have the child stay up so late into the night before going to bed, 3 to 4 days before resumption date you can have the child's bedtime be earlier - that way their body adjusts to the bedtime in the school routine.
You could also take the child along with you when shopping for school items - you're mentally and physically preparing the child for school resumption. That way you help to build the child's excitement about going back to school - he or she will want to go back to school in that new pair of shoes, clothes and bag pack that was bought.

Is there anything you do to help your students to get reaccustomed to the change?
I can support children through meeting individual needs. Parents can take the children to the setting for them to familiarise themselves with the place beforehand for them to be able to adjust quickly. Settling in sessions must be provided for the child to adjust to the environment. It could be in the form of sensory plays or calming jars and music. There should be effective communication between parents and teachers prior to a child starting school.

What tips do you have for parents?
Parents should try as much as possible to resist doing things for their children when they can perform such tasks themselves. It's okay to help where you see they have difficulties but it's also cool to sit back, relax and watch them perform these tasks. For parents it's easier and quicker when they help but it won't help your child become more self-sufficient. Children have a hard time getting back into school routine, it's okay to make them understand that you once felt that way and a lot of people still feel that way. Validation is very important.

One favourite and least favourite thing about going back to school.
Favourite things about getting back to school as a teacher is looking forward to meeting new and old students, new classroom decorations, making new memories, setting an example for the younger ones and learning new things.

What helps when one of your student is having a bad day?
As an adult, we've learned to deal with bad days by focusing on the positive, pushing forward to do what we need to do, and controlling our emotions rather than letting them control us. But children often haven't learned many of these skills yet, and teachers and parents are responsible for teaching them how to handle bad days and frustrating situations.
We need to understand their situations and recognise the reason why they have a bad day. Provide a warm, loving, affectionate relationship. Encourage them to play with friends.

What keeps a teacher happy?
A simple "thank you" from the students can make a teacher happy. We can do so many things for them, they may seem small to us, but for the students it's special and they know how to appreciate those things. And it makes our hearts happy.
Nida Hanif is an Early Years childhood teacher at Chubby Cheeks Nursery.

How do you prepare for the transition from vacation mode to school routine?

The idea of going to school and meeting new friends and teachers is very exciting for my son, but the most difficult part is to set the routine. A week before school, we start going to bed at least 15 minutes earlier so when it's back to school night my son is in bed by about 7pm.

Is there anything you do to help your child get reaccustomed to the change?
I constantly tell him stories about school and how much fun it is. The idea of having a big play area makes him very excited. This helps him to wake up with a cheery face on school day.

Do you have tips for parents gearing up for the back to school routine?
Parents shouldn't hurry kids into their school day making it sound like a laborious chore. Always start the day with cheerful greetings, have some family time at breakfast and prepare the child for a happy day ahead.

One favourite and least favourite thing about going back to school.
I love 'The early bird catches the worm' routine. Moms get chance to socialise over breakfast. The day turns out to be super productive. Least favourite thing will have to be prepping for school the night before, ironing the uniforms, cooking lunch meals...

What's the cutest/funniest thing your child has told you regarding his school experience?
My son thinks his school is a castle on the beach!
Virdah Javed Khan is a mom and Instagram blogger.

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