The summer hols seem to go on forever, don't they? After a long break, you'd think most children would be itching to go back to school, wouldn't you?

A new school term offers all sorts of interesting opportunities: seeing friends, a variety of activities to keep them occupied, favourite lessons. Some children, though, dread going back - even panic at the prospect. And it's more common than you think.

There are many reasons for this:

A bad end to the summer term

If your child received a disappointing report showing lower grades, or was bullied or fell out with a friend, children often carry a bag full of negative feelings with them. Once children associate school with feeling unhappy or being a failure, they dig them selves into a hole they can't get out of by themselves.

Try these ideas:

  • Invite the friend over for pizza to re-establish the friendship. Chances are your child's friend has forgotten all about the falling out.
  • Explain that last term was last term. This term is a new opportunutiy. Offer to help your child with the difficult subjects to remove that "I can't do it' block.
  • Avoid last minute panic mode by checking whether your child had any summer projects to complete. Support them to complete this, without mentioning your disappointment that they forgot. Instead, use this an an opportunity to set up a homework routine. Rather than impose it, ask them when they'd rather do it: when they get home, or perhaps after dinner. Giving them a choice in this can make a huge difference...
  • Contact the school if you suspect any repeat bullying. Nipping it in the bud early on will avoid bigger problems later. 

Feeling inadequate

Children show their emotions, they don't always tell them... They might not say to you in words that they are worried or scared, but their actions might tell a different story. Stroppy, argumentative behaviour, for instance, can be a sign that they are struggling with something but don't know how to handle it. 

Children who voice their negative feelings about school often say: 'I hate going' or ' I don't want to go back' are often simply scared. But of what? It could be fear of failure. Anxiety about underachieving...

First, it's important not to blame your child for feeling this way. It might be that this is an opportunity for you to share your school days, especially concerning a subject you struggled with. Empathy works wonders with children... If your child sees that you struggled too, it can make it easier on them. Struggling is a fact of life, after all. It's how we learn to cope with or face that struggle that counts...

Second, try to establish which subjects or situations your child is most worried about. Go through each subject they'll be taking. (it's easy to find information on school websites, for example) Note how they react to each one... And reassure your child that you'll help them get to grips with homework for that subject. Plus you could contact the teacher once the timetables are published to establish your concerns early.

Resisting routines

School is all about routines: getting up on time, getting to registration, arriving at lessons on time, getting homework and studying completed.

Routines, however, usually go through the window during the summer hols with children having long lie-ins or late bedtimes. Once school starts, chaos can reign unless you get practical. Here are some ideas:

  • Organise equipment. Get prepared before the term starts by making sure your child has all the correct stationery, uniform and sports kit. It's surprising how fast a child can grow over the summer hols. Their feet especially! 
  • Set the alarm every morning during the week before term starts. This will help your child get used to early mornings!
  • Get into a positive routine once school starts. Help your child pack their bag the night before, plus give plenty of praise when your child completes homework set. 

Get help from The Lemon Tree

The new term is a fresh start, not just a continuation of last year's woes. If you do hit a brick wall, and find your child isn't coping with the basics, call us here at Lemon Tree Tutors in Surrey and Chichester. We can put you in touch with a professional English, Maths or Science tutor to support your son or daughter this term.

At the very least, you are welcome to call us for advice if you feel completely stuck...

Published in Starting school

In a perfect world, our children fly through school enjoying every minute. We hope they get through their childhood unscathed and go on to lead a fabulous life.

Of course, in the real word life isn't always like this. Life is beset with problems, mountains to climb, and events which steer us off course. The school system itself heaps pressure on children from aged five upwards.

Targets, assessments and exams teach your child about success - and failure. Does this reflect the real world beyond school? Yes. But for some children, this relentless journey can be a bumpy ride. Especially when they have issues of their own to deal with. 

Rather than shoot ahead, a struggling child plods along like a tortoise without getting very far. The good news is, once you know what the problem is it's easier to tackle it. What sort of issues could affect your child's progress in the short term?

What problems to look out for

As a teacher for over two decades, I've a pretty good inkling into what motivates kids. Plus, what derails them. And there are plenty of obstacles. 

Some of the problems we come across here at Lemon Tree Tutors include:

  • Physical illness such as ME
  • School phobias
  • Bullying whether physical, emotional or cyber
  • Emotional issues affecting confidence
  • Special educational needs such as Dyslexia, ADHD etc
  • Lack of motivation
  • Knowledge gaps

Replace the image of a child happily heading off to school every day with one of a child feeling insecure, a failure, ashamed, not good enough, useless, defeated, or behind - and you get a very different picture of education. 

Sometimes, children's erratic behaviour at school can blow up into a full scale battle at home. And because children struggle to express their feelings, parents can often be at a loss on what to do for the best or how to handle a situation. 

And when school becomes such a nightmare that learning is compromised or progress stops, it's time to get help. 

Turn a corner

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say we've seen miracles happen here. Transformations which parents never thought possible. Children:

  • with shattered self-confidence leave feeling good about themselves
  • feeling ashamed of always coming last learn to feel proud of their achievements
  • who've given up on themselves start believing they can do it

And we're not just talking about children who lag behind academically. Sometimes, the brightest - most gifted - child can struggle. And needs some support to help them get through. 

With lovely home education tutors on the team, we've also a bunch of one to one tutors who help children like yours get back on track. Making life at school easier, and helping you sleep soundly at night. 

Private tuition from Cobham to Chichester

With all the will in the world, teachers cannot give individual children the specialist help they need, day in, day out. It's just not possible... 

Don't lose heart. Speak to us here at the Lemon Tree. Whatever the problem, we'll see how we can help. Just get in touch... Since our tutors in Surrey are based in Weybridge to Hersham, Cobham to Godalming, we're not too far away. 

And with tuition now available in Chichester, West Sussex, too - there's someone nearby to help. 

Published in Advice for Parents

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