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In this article, we address the issue of returning to school after a vacation without restrictions or ties and without duties or obligations; we, teachers are getting ready to receive learners returning from their long vacation.

Returning to school is tantamount to returning to the feeding the mind and the soul. Science and knowledge are the most important resources when we want to develop children’s brain. This is what happens at school; children learn, they explore, and they share information and skills with others in their environment. By the end of the long summer vacation we just referred to, children feel they are eager to go back to school, they long for teachers, class time, and assignments … In fact, these feelings are the mind’s yearning and craving for knowledge and science, for the school is the source of knowledge as well as renewed and ongoing giving.

Along with returning to school, there are ceremonies and rituals that everybody loves. Schools designate time to prepare for these events and ceremonies, and to receive learners on their first day of school as well as their first experience of moving away from home to start their journey in their second home.

At school children are offered the chance to do a number of activities that seem to be games for fun filled with colors, and that grab their attention. The fact however is that the content of these activities and the purpose behind them is mainly educational; as well as teaching student important values and making them like school and feel safe and stable there. These ceremonies are less playful with older students whereby for example activities entail introducing oneself, and therefore they enable the students to feel autonomous; similar outcomes are attained through entertaining games appropriate for each age group.

When children finish the summer vacation, we start preparing to go back to school; children start with enthusiasm and passion to prepare their tools and new clothes to start the new academic year; and children go back to sleeping and waking up early to go to school and they welcome a new year filled with knowledge.

Based on all of the above, we present in this article ideas for returning to school that are useful to parents and children such as the following.

– Preparing learners psychologically to go back to school, which could be done by involving them in matters related to school such as the new uniform, new bag, books, etc. before the start date, as well as having conversations with them about returning to school and asking them questions, because children may not speak on their own, knowing that these talks must begin at least two weeks before school rather than leaving them for the last few days or hours before the school start date.

– We advise parents to invite a close friend of their child from school, or to arrange that they go out together, as this makes children feel reassured; the child feels that his or her close friends will be with him or her at school and therefore they can talk and play together. This helps – at least – becoming familiar with the school atmosphere, the social relations, and communicating with other kids at school, after a long period of being disconnected from all that relates to school.

– Beginning to gradually change the children’s sleeping schedule within a reasonable period from school start so that they get used to sleeping on time, and to solve the problem of waking up early for children under 10 years old who need to sleep at least 10 hours, while older children need at least 8 hours of sleep. It is also recommended to take electronic devices away from children two hours before bedtime and compensating for this with things like sitting with one’s child and talking to him or her; or having him or her reading a story.

– Encouraging the child to get ready for the school year by talking about concerns that may affect them,  such as meeting new teachers at the school, or having new colleagues, or being separated from classmates, especially those with whom they are friends; as well as helping children to deal with these concerns – encouraging them and boosting their self-confidence – and helping them accept changes and adapting to them.

– Reviewing some academic information with the learner an indirect way; by for instance playing and doing activities, and encouraging him or her to finish the summer worksheets.

– Safeguarding learners’ safety and health, namely from the Corona virus and other diseases; like emphasizing the idea that it is alright to have a sanitizer and a mask to school, and that one has to always wash one’s hands with soap and water.

– Leaving students the freedom to choose their favorite school needs such as pens, papers, and notebooks…

– Buying a suitcase suitable for the child’s books and tools or using last year’s bag if it makes him or her feel comfortable.

– Eating breakfast is one of the basic things for the student before heading to school, as eating a meal rich in proteins and vitamins will definitely give him or her energy and vitality in the class.

– Organizing matters and managing time are key to success. As such, the more we help learners to arrange and organize their affairs, the better is his or her academic performance. At the same time though, the fact is that at the level of the school system, it is also one of the challenges at schools because children – in general – lost the ability to abide by the school system following the period of distance education. Returning to school is a need so that children get used again to the system (routine) such as waking up early, putting on their clothes, going to school and adhering to its regulations and laws.

– Setting a daily or weekly schedule helps learners organize studying and activities schedules. This makes children feel safe and stable because they know exactly what they must do every day and at all time; accordingly, they learn to organize their timetable and distinguish between rights and duties and most importantly, they realize the importance of time and they end up appreciating it.

– Encouraging reading and specifying a time for it daily. To love reading is one of the best gifts we can give our learners. Practically speaking, reading helps with finishing homework. At the same time it broadens students’ horizons. It can help readers discover and understand their world better. Many studies also show the importance of reading at home, as it helps the student develop the language skills and reading and writing skills he needs. Some tips for reading at home include:

– Encouraging and motivating learners to read from an electronic platform.

– Helping learners to choose and read some stories.

– Listening to the child when he or she is reading and immediately correcting errors.

– Buying useful stories or sharing them with classmates and friends.

– Designating a reading corner.

– Setting up specific times for reading.

– Asking the child to tell the story after reading it.

– Always praising and encouraging the child’s efforts.

– Reducing time spent on the Internet and controlling time spent playing electronic devices as much as possible. The Internet is one of the important means of education for children, and it is currently widely used, but with the beginning of this modern technological lifestyle, wrong habits and practices have arisen for this source that can put children’s health and social well-being at risk. This is why we recommend turning off the television or mobile phones while doing their homework.

– A preferred daily routine such as waking up at a specific time and eating breakfast … to gradually readjust to the school routine. It is also recommended to do the steps of the morning routine before the school begins, so that children get used to it.

Going back to school is like returning to nourish the mind and soul

Manal Tamim

منال أحمد تميم، متأهّلة وأمّ لولدين.
خريجة جامعة بيروت العربيّة قسم الآداب، حائزة على إجازة تعليميّة في اللّغة العربيّة وآدابها.
معلّمة لغة عربيّة في المدرسة المعمدانيّة الإنجيليّة لصفوف الثانويّ في قسم التّربية المختصّة، ومنسّقة في مادّة اللّغة العربيّة للحلقتين الأولى والثّانية.
هواياتي: الموسيقى، ممارسة الرّياضة، طهو الطّعام والمطالعة.

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