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School in September

STEAM learning art whilst painting together in childrens classes

As the summer holidays draw to a close, there may be mixed feelings about heading back to school, or even starting school for the first time. Understandably, children have had the holidays to unwind, relax, be kids, play, have fun and spend some time away from the formalities of schooling.

For some children, school is the very making of them; be it the formal structure of the school day, the weekly routines or the familiar rhythm of the school term. For those who are just beginning school the excitement of putting on a crisp new uniform and walk into their classroom is something they may have been waiting to do for a long time.

For some children however, the beginning of a new school year can bring a sense of anxiety and worry. The holidays gives children a chance to expand, explore and adventure. Stretching their limbs outdoors, testing new social roles and learn more about the world around them. Day trips to exciting places, new sporting adventures, meeting friends and family from afar or simply getting stuck in to days of serious play at home with their toys. The structure of school makes these children feel claustrophobic; the routine is monotonous, perhaps the teachings are a “one size fits all” approach and the subjects aren’t ones which interest them.

How can we as parents and educators ensure all children maintain their enthusiasm for learning, their curious and inquisitive nature is protected and ensure the school year ahead goes as smoothly as possible? Many would say its impossible, that it’s simply a part of growing up. Losing those childhood traits is just something that happens?!

I hope not.

I want to believe that all children (and adults) have that enthusiasm still intact. However it may manifest, I believe there are still glimpses of that awe and wonder when learning something new for the first time even as we grow. As children progress through the school system, the word learning becomes synonymous with a chore. The seated rows, the flat textbooks or text heavy tablet certainly isn’t something I advocate at The Fern Club.

School should be a place for children to want to come back to. Somewhere which ignites the flames of curiosity and builds the foundations for a lifetime of wonder. How many of us get sucked into roles and careers we never envisaged? As children did you dream of having the role you have now? For a small proportion of us, perhaps you’ve remained true to your 7 year old self. For the vast majority however, probably not.

Once you have a child, you are suddenly privy to the incredible “firsts”. The moments when your child does/sees/senses something for the very first time. Imagine seeing a shadow for the first time or watching a person fly through the sky on a zip line. The first time feeling sand on your toes or holding jelly between your fingers. The first fall down and the moment they connect in their first high 5! Once you have a child, you see the importance of those first encounters with the world.

Those precious moments as a parent should be the ones driving you on to help and encourage your little one. Whether you’re a firm believer in formal education or are a passionate home schooler, you as a parent have a vital role to play. Your enthusiasm and engagement is the key to your little ones path in this world; not the helicopter-tiger-snowplough-dolphin-whatever-style of parenting. Just simply being a parent, their role model and provider. Children look to you for everything.

So as the beginning of another academic year begins, whatever your schooling situation, remember that your positive engagement and enthusiasm is one of the keys to a smooth year. We’re only children for such a short time but we can be positive, enthused, life long learners forever.

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