The Countdown Begins

After six weeks of school holidays, the last thing your kid wants to do is to go back to class. Make the transition smoother with these tips from DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Now that your child is nearing the end of this long break from school, she may dread her return there in January – she is so used to sleeping in and not doing any homework, that you can’t face the prospect of dragging her out of bed each morning.

Here is a four-week plan to gradually ease her back into a school routine by the end of December, without depriving her of a well-deserved holiday.

Week 1

She’s well into her holiday period and her thoughts are far from school, classrooms, teachers and homework. She is immersed in fun activities with her friends and family.

But now that the first weeks of lazing around have passed, introduce some structure and routine into her schedule.

For instance, encourage her to get out of bed around the same time each day during the week (although that will be later than she usually gets up on a school day) and allow her to lie in longer at the weekends (just as she does during the school term.)

The same applies with bedtimes. Likewise, have regular mealtimes, even though it is still the school holidays. Keeping a structure to her life maintains her sense of routine.

Week 2

By now her sleeping and waking should follow a pattern that you started the previous week. You can introduce more structure to her day, as well.

For example, each morning, she can play with a friend or read a book quietly. In the afternoon, she can plan an activity, such as going to the park or watching a movie.

Aside from avoiding boredom – which is a common problem during long school breaks – this daytime structure forces her to plan ahead and think about how she will spend her remaining holiday time.

Week 3

Now is the time to remind her that she’ll soon be going back to school. This way, she starts to think about it, even though she isn’t exactly engaged in any school-based tasks.

Suggest that she identifies the holiday activity that she has enjoyed the most, so she can share this with her teacher and classmates on their return (this is a common first-day-back class lesson.)

Your tween might moan when you mention school, so be prepared.

Week 4

The school break is almost over, so use this week for purposeful preparation. Make sure your child sorts out her uniforms and can still fit into them.

Likewise, ensure that she sorts out her bag, books, and anything else she takes to school, such as her lunchbox.

Help her do this and speak positively to her about the impending return to school. And make sure she goes to bed, and wakes up, at a sensible time all this week.

Final day

Prepare everything the night before so that she is completely ready. Chat about the good times she has had this break and tell her she’ll have fun the next school break, as well.

Put her to bed in good time. Set the alarm for 10 minutes earlier than you usually do for a school day.

With luck, everything will go smoothly and calmly in the morning for her first day back.

My Reading Room

Keep to regular bedtimes and mealtimes. Having structure in her life maintains her sense of routine.