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Back to school

As I sat at the departure gate in Dubai's airport awaiting my connecting flight to Doha I could not help but notice the assortment of fellow travellers who, much like myself, seemed to be returning from a long well-earned vacation. There was the bunch of teenagers, stuck to their mobile phones, perhaps trying to let their friends on Facebook or Twitter know how much they hated (or enjoyed!) this return to school and academic life. And then there were young ones who were engrossed in their cartoon shows in iPads oblivious of what is waiting for them next.

Preparing for the big day

Despite living in a media-saturated world, kids too go through their share of post-vacation blues especially after a long well spent holiday. Getting kids ready, especially the first timers, is more or less a mammoth task as they suffer from separation anxiety. Jason Glass, an expatriate parent, says, "Most schools will tell you that the first term is the worst for the teachers especially those who teach in KG1, [since] some kids are learning about the separation from the parents for the first time."

With a little consistent help from parents and teachers, kids can easily get over the post-vacation gloominess. Here are some tips shared by parents from in Doha.

Badliza Badrudin, an experienced parent, says, "Bring the newbies [to] look at the school few times before starting and show them to get them excited. For the bigger kids [even though] they don't show it, they are nervous too.” She suggests sending them to school on the first day and providing plenty of words of encouragement.

"We bought some workbooks to get our son ready just to keep his mind fit and used to the curriculum at school. I start adjusting bed time a few weeks before school starts so there are no issues in the morning and one less thing to stress about," shares Jennifer Al-Ouran. "I continue to bring up his new [academic] year in a positive way so this will encourage him to have a positive outlook as well. Start now with a few hours a day with art, reading, math and spelling so they are used to it."

Alison Laws echoes Jennifer Al-Ouran's thoughts. "Try to plan your return from vacation a few days before the start of term and work the children back into the routine of getting to bed earlier and getting up earlier. Start times are brutal and many of us fall into the habit of sleeping late during the holidays. Some families fly in at 2 am on the first day of school and send the children in anyway expecting them to be able to cope, which is not realistic," she says.

According to Sara Sunia, “Organising play-meets in arts and crafts venues with classmates before school starts works well for us [parents] to ease them [kids] into their new school year.” Play dates also pave a way for an introvert or a nervous child to open up and build a social life for himself or herself. Eventually this will help them in facing social and academic life.

The shopping

Parents like Badrudin believe that involving kids in in step-by-step shopping of uniforms, stationeries and books and preparing their back-packs provides the positive reinforcement needed to help them maintain a healthy excitement level. This will also help children, especially the young ones, to become less anxious about the school.

Uniform stores

Stationery and Bookstores

Lunch boxes 

Online stores 

The conclusion

The bottom line really is simple. School and academic life is hard. Be it Grade 12 or Pre-K, every kid goes through an adjustment process appropriate to their age to get back into the rhythm of school life. With proper planning and the right approach, parents can help their children face this transition with confidence.

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