There’s an old saying that your school days are the best days of your life. With pretty much all schools going back to in-person teaching, starting or returning to school for the new educational year is likely to bring a mixed bag of emotions. While many youngsters will be raring to go, excited for what the new term will bring, there may also be anxieties, hidden or obvious. Whether your youngster is gung-ho or feeling just that little bit nervous about the whole thing, we’ve got a range of strategies to help.
We’ve also checked out some of the best apps to help students as they head back to the classroom and sought out a range of after-school activities, to help you make the best of the free time your kids still have.
Routine, Routine, Routine
Psychologists unanimously agree that routine is the number one factor in getting kids, both young and older, ready for a smooth return to (or first time in) the classroom. And this is not just about establishing a term-time bedtime and sticking to it. You also need morning and after-school routines – this is crucial both to give kids a feeling of security and consistency but also for parents’ sanity.
You may wish to incorporate small jobs that youngsters can do themselves such as making sure, when they arrive home, that their school bags are packed for the next day and their uniforms are properly put away or dropped into the laundry basket.
Whichever routine you decide to establish, be prepared to stick to your guns. After the long summer holidays, youngsters may have gotten into the habit on going to bed late and getting up equally late as well as spending a lot of time playing either online or with favourite toys or friends. You can incorporate some of this behaviour into the new routine with promises of additional play/ sleep time at weekends but it’s important that, during the week, school-age kids are getting enough sleep.
Make It Fun
Making the start of a new term fun can go a long way to easing any anxieties kids big and small may be feeling. Try shopping for stylish stationery and great accessories. For little ones, particularly, this will help them to get excited about going back to the classroom and, for this age group, participation and a feeling of choice are key. But, make sure their more outlandish choices are fit for the job they need to do. You could also have a fun session with them personalising their bags and belongings to make sure they always come home at the end of the day. For older kids, setting a budget and giving them the independence to shop for themselves might be just what’s needed.
Another great way to get youngsters excited about going back to school at the same time as helping build your own routine is to get them involved in choosing and preparing their own lunches and snacks to take with them. Of course, you want them to be eating a nutritionally balanced selection of foods but there’s certainly no harm in catering to their particular whims and making the contents of their lunchbox look appealing will go a long way to ensuring they actually eat the things you pack. Check out puckarabia.com for cheesy ideas, modernhoney.com for some great looking, healthy options, or aheadofthyme.com for gourmet goodies.
Now’s the time to get in the homework habit. For age groups that will have regular out-of-school work to do, set a time period, either directly when they arrive home or – if that’s precious playtime – perhaps after supper, for them to sit down and hit the books (or, these days, screens) to ensure their homework is done on time. This may mean making time for mum or dad to be available to help, particularly for little ones, and this can be a great opportunity to talk about their day. For days when there is no homework, this period can be used for reading or another enjoyable but mildly educational activity – if they’re used to taking this time out, it won’t seem like a chore.
If, as a parent, you feel you’re not up to the task of helping with homework – this may be particularly evident in the case of older children – now’s the time to speak to your children’s teachers and perhaps seek out a tutor if you feel there’s an area where extra help is needed.
It’s Good To Talk
This may seem obvious but, when parents are often rushing to fit in after-school activities, homework and making sure the kids are prepped for the next day’s lessons, conversation can easily take a back seat. But, though communication is hugely important all year round, at the start of a new school year or term it takes on added significance. It’s a good habit, for all ages, to take a few minutes, perhaps before bed, to just check-in, talk about your kid’s day and gently ask if there’s anything bothering them. If all’s hunky dory, then congratulations, for now. But, if issues do develop, having this practice established will, hopefully, make it easier to spot problems early and take appropriate action.
APP TO SCHOOL
From mental well-being and a good night’s sleep to what’s for lunch and study planners, we’ve got you and your cubs covered. Explore these mobile apps that will help your child make a smooth transition from summer break to school life.
An education entails more than just school. Bright Kid offers a wide range of short, fun courses on life skills. From the basics of money to cryptocurrency and public speaking to climate consciousness, this app offers it all. Some of their upcoming courses include graphic design, coding, dance, abacus for mind development and more. Children even get a certificate after they complete a session. An interactive app, its courses are facilitated by certified teachers who are said to be some of the world’s best.
The positive effects of meditation are well-known. As a child, life can be quite stressful especially with school and other challenges that come with it. Children’s Meditations offers timed meditation modules for children of different age groups. There is a range of components that help children fall asleep, find their inner calm, be mindful and more. In addition to the free options, there are those you can purchase in-app as well.
If kids (or parents) find themselves taking too many breaks or, even, perhaps don’t know when to take a breather, Clockwork Tomato is the answer. It helps users stay productive based on the Pomodoro Technique, a time management system where you divide your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. However, you can set timers (and sounds) to fit the type of work being done. You can also keep a log of achieved and unfinished intervals. Further, you can personalise the app for days and times so it knows when to start keeping track.
Getting back to a routine after a holiday can be tough. Not to mention the stress that classes and exams bring. Drive Thru helps recognise and understand emotions by asking users how they’re feeling and what is making them feel that way (triggers); there are options you can select, making it that much easier. Further, you can practise breathing exercises and journalling. There’s also a library of helpful reading and listening material, as well as writing exercises including modules specially made for students. Qualified therapists offer courses that you can take, depending on the problem you’re facing. While a lot of the material is free, there are components available to purchase in-app.
Time and plan study easily! All users have to do is enter their subjects and specify how many they want to learn each day of the week. Easy Study will draw up a plan for you, which you will need to confirm. The plans are designed to ensure that you review all the subjects at regular intervals, never leaving any accumulated content. Some of the features include customising subjects by name and study time, notifications about subjects that you have to study and a summary of each day, as well as a history of the number of hours studied each day, month, week, etc. Easy Study Plus with an expanded set of features is available.
An easy-to-use memory tool to help children learn new vocabulary, prepare for exams and memorise words. You can easily create as many cards as you want. The app facilitates spaced repetition, ensuring consistent review and hence, recall. You can also share your card sets with friends and import or export them as CSV files. In addition to flashcard review, there are other study modes that you can choose such as writing review, multiple answers and audio. The app also works offline.
Have a fussy eater at home? LaLa Lunchbox has you covered. You can work together with your kids to plan healthy lunches and snacks that even picky eaters will devour. Children with food allergies or sensitivities will benefit from special nut-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or kosher meal suggestions, each one of which is curated by a registered dietician.
An app to train users to speed-read, develop memory and build attention and concentration abilities. There is a range of exercises including Schulte tables, which have already proven to be effective. Schulte tables are a grid of randomly distributed numbers and letters used for the development of speed reading, peripheral vision, attention and visual perception. Get regular reminders to practise and track progress with each exercise.
Let’s face it, getting enough sleep when you’re in school is hard! Between late-night study sessions and early morning classes, it can be impossible to get the amount of sleep you should. Sleep Cycle has an intelligent sleep tracker, which monitors users’ sleeping patterns and wakes you up only when you’re in the light sleep stage. This ensures you always feel well-rested when you wake up, even if you’re short of sleep hours. The app also offers premium features such as a library of sleep stories, relaxation guides and calm sleep sounds.
While TinyTap helps elementary and middle-school students work on academic skills such as reading and math, what drew us to the app is that it also helps them navigate and learn social skills. There are modules teaching how to recognise gestures, understand your feelings and those of others, all in different life contexts such as losing a game or feeling upset when someone is mad at you. You can get a free trial with selected modules. A Parent Dashboard helps keep track of your child’s activity on the app.
WHERE’S THE AFTER PARTY?
We’re officially done with the summer holidays (if not the summer heat!). But back-to-school doesn’t have to mean the fun’s all over. Bahrain offers so much for your child to do after school hours.
They say: “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.” Your children and you might have returned to the back-to-school grind but here’s a kind reminder to take some time off between classes, homework and more classes. The island is home to many places offering a wide range of recreational activities from dance and theatre to language and art that will keep your cubs entertained and constructively busy
Bahrain Mall in Sanabis opened a new hub of fun on the island. Trax is a one-stop-shop for adrenaline junkies with a Roller Rink, Mirror Madness, Hero Park and Crazy Wall. Roller Rink is an indoor skating venue, said to be Bahrain’s first, which is perfect to escape the summer heat while still being active. Mirror Madness is a lifesized maze of mirrors and glass. Your child can put their navigation skills to the test and experience a world of illusions as they find their way out of the maze. Hero Park is a series of obstacle courses, a test of strength and stamina for your little one while retaining the fun element. Crazy Wall offers the feel of outdoor climbing and a much-needed physical challenge. There’s a karting track too that is open to kids. After a whole day of sitting at a desk, these activities will offer the right balance between mental and physical activity in an indoor, child-friendly set up.
GO: Call 3838 8555 for more information.
Unleash the artist within! Studio Ceramics off Budaiya Highway is an art and, what they call, ‘PYOP or Paint Your Own Pottery’ studio. Established in 2007, it’s a space for creative people of all ages. Your kids can sculpt their own pieces or choose from the many ready items such as teacups, plates, money banks, figurines and more. They can paint them using the non-toxic, water-soluble ceramic paints at the studio – no previous experience is needed. Moreover, staffers are always ready to help and teach about pottery and painting. In addition to being a great pastime with a parent or friend, this is also quite therapeutic to do alone. You pay for the piece you choose to paint, which could be anything from BD2 to BD35, and for the painting and firing of the ceramic, which could be anything from BD4 to BD6, depending on the size of the piece, for both children and adults. You will need to book the studio in advance.
GO: Call 1700 2911 or 3328 6377 for more information and bookings.
The British Club
Children are drama professionals – nobody knows this better than us, parents! Channel their energy for the ‘performing arts’ with The British Club’s improv and drama class. Starting September 7, sessions will be conducted every Wednesday from 3.45pm to 4.45pm. Children ages seven to 12 can attend. Founded in 1935, the venue, located in Adliya, is one of the oldest and most popular expat clubs in Bahrain. Additionally, it was voted ‘Best Social Club in the World’ in the UK Telegraph’s Best of British 2010 awards. Manama Theatre Club, the drama section within The British Club will facilitate the class. It’s well-known among theatre enthusiasts and fans on the island for staging fun productions such as pantomimes, revues and comedy-dramas.
GO: Call 1772 8245 for more information and registrations.
Bahrain Ballet Centre
Put your best foot forward, literally! Bahrain Ballet Centre offers a variety of dance courses. Learn classical ballet, tap dance, modern dance, acro, musical theatre and more. There’s a class for mothers and toddlers too and a Khaleeji course that teaches local dance moves. The main studio is located in Budaiya. Whether you’re a pro or have two left feet, don’t worry, the centre conducts classes for all ages and levels. Bahrain Ballet Centre first opened its doors in 1982 and, over the years, has earned a reputation as a family-oriented performing arts studio. Don’t miss out on the special September lottery – win fabulous prizes on signing up for classes!
GO: Call 3371 9180 for more information and registrations.
Tucked away in Janabiya, Victoria Dance offers high-quality training in a wide range of dance disciplines. The studio is family orientated and students are taught in a caring, encouraging and professional environment. Beginning with building healthy bodies as a foundation for learning, students are equipped to practice discipline, to work with others, to face challenges with grace and to take creative approaches to problemsolving, all with the support of like-minded developing artists and instructors. They are starting their autumn term from September 4, which will run through to December 15. You can register for a range of dance forms – graded ballet, tap dance to contemporary, hip hop, modern jazz and Afro beats.
GO: Call 1700 4382 or WhatsApp 3987 6215 for more information and registrations.
North American Educational Services
Tucked away in Busaiteen, North American Educational Services is offering group programmes. Jolly Phonics phases one to seven runs on Thursdays and Saturdays through to January 2023. It’s recommended for ages five to seven. The English alphabet has 26 letters but over 42 sounds. Children learn these sounds through a variety of songs, stories and actions that they will discover in this programme. Further, you can register for Jolly Grammar, which runs through to March 2023. It’s recommended for children who are six years and older. Kids who have successfully completed the first one to seven phases or pass the assessment can attend this programme. It helps build vocabulary, sentence structure, parts of speech and much more. North American Educational Services’ autumn programmes and classes are facilitated by experienced and certified American teachers.
GO: Call or WhatsApp 3505 0678 for more information and registrations.