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8 ways parents can help their kids survive the back to school slump

Ciaran Smyth

Feb 2, 2015

For many children, 2015 will bring big changes to their education. They may have started in a new class with higher expectations and new ways of learning, and often it is daunting and stressful.

Ciaran Smyth, our Director of Tutoring Services (also ex-teacher and devoted dad), has been speaking with the media recently, on how to get through this stressful period with family sanity intact.  Here he is on Channel Nine's Sydney News last week (video courtesy of Channel Nine):



Here are his top tips in full.  If you'd like to add your own thoughts, please feel free to comment at the end of this article.  Good luck for a great school year!



Tip # 1 Get organised

It’s incredibly important to ensure your teen starts the school year with all the tools they need. You’ve got to make it as easy as possible for your child to organise their notes from day one, because once a week or two has passed, it becomes difficult to try and systemise loose scribbles and worksheets. 

Some essentials that I swear by include pens, notebooks, binders, filing systems and colour coordina

ted sticky notes, but check with the school for any other items that you might need to purchase.


Tip # 2 Find a few study spaces

Despite what most people believe, your home’s traditional study room is not the best space for your child to complete their school work.

Kids should study in an area that is quiet and clear of distraction, including TVs and computers, which offer far too much temptation to flick to Facebook (unless of course computer work is required as part of the studying).  I’ve found that the kitchen bench is a great alternative. Parents are generally within close enough reach to help out with any tricky questions and can also make sure their children stay focused. It’s also easy for your teen to refill their water or access snacks if they need.

Don’t be too stringent with where your child studies, if it’s a nice day outside, encourage them to head on to the balcony. If your child is always heading to the study room at the back of the house, it becomes a place that they dread and will cause them unnecessary stress when they have to go there.

Tip # 3 Get into a routine

Never underestimate the value of a routine, especially when it comes to school work and study time. I recommend encouraging your teen to spend the first 30 minutes to an hour after they arrive home from school doing something they enjoy – be it sport, video games, the gym or TV. This allows them to relax and disconnect from school. Then, spend a solid hour or two on homework or study before dinner. The key is to be flexible with what subjects your child studies each day.  If there’s a big maths exam coming up, encourage them to spend the entire evening on maths and work on the other subjects tomorrow.

Tip # 4 Know your resources 

Most parents don’t realise just how many educational resources are available to themselves and their children. Start with your local library which is a treasure trove of books, DVDs and CDs to help with every school subject you can think of. Libraries also offer free wifi and is one of the best environments for group study sessions around; they’re quiet, free from distraction and have the space you need.

Ask your school about tutoring options, as most will have teachers available before and after school for extra help. Of course, Studiosity allows your child access to accredited teachers between 3pm-midnight – perfect for those times your child has left their assignment to the last minute and needs some extra help.


Check with teachers regarding extra credit options that your child can participate in. You never know when they might need to use it! Finally, encourage your teen to get copies of all the quizzes they do throughout the year. That way when final exams come around, they can use all the mini quizzes as study materials.

Tip # 5 Encourage social activities

Besides getting an education, school is all about developing social skills and (believe it or not) having fun. Encourage your teen to join a sports or social club, as these ‘team’ activities will help them make friends (who can support them during the tough academic times) and develop a healthy school/life balance. It doesn’t have to be a tough football or cheerleading team, I have it on good authority that the nerdy chess teams are closet party animals!




Tip # 1 Don't draw out the goodbyes

Although it’s tempting to linger around your child’s classroom and take mental notes of all the other kids (which child has famous parents and which child may/may not have nits), it can make it even more difficult when it’s time to say goodbye. The best way is to make a fuss free exit, simply drop your child off, say a quick hello to the teacher and some of the students and make your getaway.

Tip # 2 Don’t Get Snap Happy

Although it can be super cute to get photos of your child in their classroom (and on the school oval, in front of the school sign and with the teacher, head teacher and principal), it can often distract other children, draw unwanted attention to your own child and make them even more nervous about their big first day. Get snap happy, but do it at home before you leave.

Tip # 3 Label Everything

I mean everything. It never ceases to amaze me how many things go missing in primary school, from lunchboxes, backpacks, hats, jumpers – even underwear! Unless you’re happy to fork out for a new school wardrobe every week, you should write your child’s name of every item they take with them to school (don’t forget about their show and tell items too!). 


Have you had a back to school experience you'd like to share?  Please leave your comments below.


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