Starting the School Year Right
Setting the tone for starting the school year is important for kids to integrate into their new classes, make good friends and cope well with studies. My daughter is currently in primary six. It’s a big year for her, with PSLE coming up and changes ahead.
In my family, routine plays a big part in helping her manage. My daughter gets up every morning by her own alarm clock, I fix us breakfast, and we leave the house together— each to school and work.
As a working mum, I have to attend to my duties in the office, while my children make their way home after school. So right from the start, when my daughter enrolled in primary one, I agreed on a simple timetable with her: When she comes home from school, she can do anything she likes, but 8 pm to 9.30 pm is dedicated homework time.
As 8 pm approaches, I give her little reminders that it is homework time soon, and this helps her get into the mood to do work and finish the activity she is doing before. Whether she is busy browsing through Instagram or watching TikTok videos, this routine has helped her build the discipline to finish her homework daily.
Special Time for Older Kids
I also make it a point to have daily conversations with my daughter, even if it’s the usual, “What did you eat today?” or “What did you do today?” Sometimes the answer is “Nothing,” with an indifferent shrug, but I see any reply as an acceptance that I am there. I would try again and ask about her school friends whom I know, so that perhaps she would be encouraged to share more.
However long or short the conversation, it is still important to be had. This is so that my daughter sees that I’m there for her. If something is ever troubling her, she knows that I’m always ready to listen to her.
Unfortunately, with my elder son, I didn’t do this when he was at that age. Over the years, he had grown defiant and I was at a loss as to what to do. By the time I learned about the importance of spending Special Time with my children, my son was in secondary school and I feared that it might be too late to reconcile our relationship. But I decided to try another parenting strategy I learned from Common Sense Parenting, and I felt so encouraged by the result.
One of the Most Useful Things Parents Should Know
I learned that praising children is very important in building the relationship— and not just any praise, but effective praise. When my son helped to fetch my daughter to school one day, I told him, “Son, thank you for helping me bring Meimei to school today. Because of your help, I was able to have better quality sleep this morning and didn’t have a headache during the day.” My son’s face lit up when he heard that.
From then, he began to listen to me and share things with me. From our talks, I learned that he had actually felt jealous of his younger sister, because I made her breakfast every morning, but didn’t do so for him. I had thought he was old enough to fix his own, but didn’t realise that he was feeling unfairly treated. We were able to talk it out, and as we have had more of these honest conversations, he is now assured that I love him just as much as his Meimei. I’m really grateful that we were able to mend our relationship, and I hope that it will only grow stronger with the years.
Mother of two, MSCS’ Parenting Workshops attendee
Read what our Senior Training Manager, Ms Josephine Loh advises on How to get your child ready for Primary 1
Learn more about our Triple P® Programme for parents of primary and secondary school-going children. Learn how to use Special Time and Effective Praise with your kids by joining in one of our Parenting Workshops!
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