I think we can all agree that getting children through school is definitely not a walk in the park. Some mothers seem to have it all together, and others have no qualms speaking their mind when it comes to the frustration of dealing with children who cannot seem to keep it together.
While there are lots of reasons for that, both medical and emotional, I thought it would be a great idea to share some tips on helping your child stay organised throughout the school term.
Obviously not all of these tips would be practical in your household, but you’re sure to find at least one of them helpful.
Even though some would argue that routine is not a good thing, I believe in sticking to one to the best of your abilities. It doesn’t have to be the same as other households, you can decide whatever suits you and the rest of your family best.
It’s a good idea to break the routine down into morning, afternoon and evening. My daughter suffers from ADHD and finds it extremely hard to focus on getting done for school. I’ve drawn up a morning routine with a list of things she needs to do, then again for when we get home at 6, and then again at bedtime.
It has helped us both tremendously! I have made peace with the fact that it’s not because she doesn’t listen, it’s because she constantly forgets. Constantly reminding her of her shortcomings does not prove to be helpful at all, so an alternative had to be found. There are lots of cool applications you can use on your phone, or you can try making a visual presentation board of the chosen routine. Do a “Task-Chart, and let them tick the tasks off as they are being completed. The only thing you need to remind them of is to actually use this board!
If you have decided on a routine, try to stick with that as much as possible and be consistent! It’s okay to bend the rules here and there, but consistency is key within the first few weeks of the school term.
Your child needs to understand that every day/evening will have the same routine as much as possible. This makes them feel safe and at ease. It’s important to bend the rules every now and again though because you also don’t want them to become anxious every time a routine doesn’t work out like it’s supposed to. They need to understand that routine is not a punishment, but rather a guideline for them to be the best versions of themselves by living a balanced life. They also need to know that life is unpredictable and therefore the routine might be disturbed sometimes, but then it’s up to us to get back on track to the best of our ability.
Communication with the teacher
I know a lot of teachers don’t like handing out their contact numbers, but if you feel your child needs a little more help in becoming organised, it might be a good idea to get the teachers email address just to touch base with his progress once a week or so.
A lot of the times, school classes will have a WhatsApp group for the parents, where the parents can communicate with one another. Only one parent will have direct contact with the teacher, and should there be an urgent query, she will contact the teacher and revert back to the other group members. I have found that this system works extremely well. A lot of the times, books are forgotten at school or homework is not written down properly. It’s such a big help to be able to ask other parents on the group.
If your child’s class does not have a WhatsApp group, I highly recommend it. Sometimes it just helps us to help our children become more organised. They should know that it’s still their responsibility to keep track of their homework and that the group is just for emergencies.
Let’s not forget the gross backpack
I’m sure a lot of mothers would agree with this one. Children are just super gross when it comes to their back packs! Old food, crumbs, spilt cooldrink etc.
Life is busy and we don’t have the time to make our 10-year-olds unpack their bags every evening. We kind of just trust that all will be well in there. Well let me tell you, it’s not! Have you ever looked for something in your childs backpack and found mouldy bread at the bottom mixed with some of last weeks test papers? Because same…
I have yelled, I have pleaded.. I have punished and I have cried – nothing seems to be working. Until I came to the realisation that some things just are the way they are – especially with a special needs child. I have come to the conclusion that although it’s time consuming, it’s much better for my mental health to just let her unpack her bag completely every single evening. It needs to be shaken out, wiped down with a cloth and re-packed before I do inspection. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s the only way you can really control their backpack-hygiene – unless you’re going to clean it yourself every day. I think not..
By making this part of your childs daily routine, you are teaching him how to take care of his things by practicing good hygiene. Let your child do this the minute he gets home for a few nights, and soon it will come naturally!
Concentrate on their diet
I know this is such an overrated topic, but it really does play a huge role in your childs everyday life. I’m not getting too technical about this one, but basically ensure that your child has a healthy breakfast before going to school. I’ve started to make scrambled egg the night before, and then I just heat it up the next morning and make a little breakfast-wrap. It’s quick, easy, and my daughter loves it. It’s filled with protein to sustain her until break time, where she’ll have a healthy, balanced lunchbox.
Although it’s difficult and easier said than done, try to cut back on sugar as much possible. I’ve been making use of the “Oh My Goodness Range” from Checkers. They have cookies, candies and so much more, without all the nasties.
Caring Candies is also a great initiative and although expensive, well worth the money. We are what we eat, and if you’re going to feed your child MSGs, Flavorants and Colorants all day long, it’s not surprising that they are struggling to stay focused. Although I don’t believe that dietary changes can have a significant effect on ADHD, I do believe that it has its benefits.
Improve your emotional intelligence
As parents, we lead by example. If we bring our bad vibes from work into our homes, we teach children that it’s okay to punish innocent people for others wrongdoings.
If we don’t want to spend time with our children after a long day, it teaches them that it’s okay to be too busy with your own things to care about what others have to say.
If you get all worked up about every little thing your child forgets to do, you teach him that it’s okay to yell when you’re upset with someone. I know it’s difficult, and probably almost impossible.. but we have to improve our own emotional intelligence in order for us to show our children how to react to certain things. I would suggest doing things that bring you hapiness. Join a book club, watch an episode of your favourite series, hell, drink a glass of wine if you want to! Do whatever you need to do to be the calm, happy mother that your child deserves and needs you to be.
There are also some great books available for improving our emotional intelligence. I think EQ is, in some cases, more beneficial to our interpersonal relationships than our actual IQ.
Give Your Child Time To Do What He Loves
Even though screen time should be regulated and limited, allow your child enough time to do the things he loves. Whether it be reading, gaming, sports, drawing or any interest he might have that does not involve the school.
We get so caught up with the norm of getting our child through school, that we sometimes forget about our child himself. Who is he? What does he actually enjoy doing? More importantly.. Who is he when he is not at school? We cannot let schools and the system define our children. Just because a child may not do that great at school, does not mean we have to focus all of our time on improving that aspect of his life.
In the end, the school system plays a very small role in who we become as adults. Yes, it’s utterly important to get a good education, but it’s our talents, values and life skills that will get us through life. This term, I want to encourage all parents to focus on your child as an entity of his own, and not just another student that needs to get good grades. Be there for your child to listen, motivate and encourage him to explore his talents and interests beyond that of which the school requires.
And next time when your child just needs a hug from a very tired parent, take a breath and savour the moment. Let your child know that he is safe and loved, regardless of the chaos he might experience while trying to organise his life at school and live up to our expectations.
Remember, your child is unique, and do not once let school and all it’s expectations define your child!
Wishing you a peaceful, prosperous 2nd term, Mamas!