Making the best of the autumn term – a good start can make all the difference

One of the good things about autumn is that after a long summer break, students, teachers and even parents are all ready to start the whole routine of school and all that goes with it all over again in September. For parents, it may include the school run and driving the young ones to sports and other extra-curricular activities.

As a teacher I always looked forward to September, despite the fact that I’ve enjoyed my summer break. There is something about going back to see those young people again and you often remember the cheeky ones who are always up to something! I would actually say that if as a teacher, on the whole, you are not looking forward to going back to school in September, you are in the wrong job.


An opportunity to shine!

For a young person, the start of a new academic year is an excellent opportunity for all sorts of reasons. For some it could be about starting a new subject, being taught by a new teacher or doing a new extra-curricular activity that you have not done before. Going to school is not just about academic achievement as it is a lot better than that – although academic progress and victory is an essential part of the mix. It is natural for a young person to want to learn something new and to want to gain knowledge, as all that is part of natural curiosity. The challenge comes when a young person faces an obstacle in terms of not understanding a topic or the feeling of not liking a teacher of that subject, or both.

The start of the academic year provides a real chance to refresh and start anew. I will say achieving success is due to three things: thoughts, actions and support. Those three things are nice words and easy enough to say but when we break each of them down further, the words that may end up on our list include dream, decision, desire, behaviour, habits, motivation, encouragement, enthusiasm, confidence, and so on. You may choose to list these rather interesting words under the three headlines of thought, action and support. You may perhaps want to add more words.


Support system and circle of influence

As we all know, when you look deeper into the support system surrounding young people who are achieving highly and doing well in school or in other endeavours, you often find that the parent(s) is somewhere in the background helping to shape the future. Us parents, in a way, are some sort of catalyst. In Chemistry the word catalyst is used for a substance that is essential for a chemical reaction to occur but does not get used up in that chemical reaction, meaning without it, there will not be a chemical reaction, and when a catalyst is present and all things are in place, a successful chemical reaction will happen and the catalyst will be preserved – without being used up in the process.


A parent is more than a catalyst

Actually, a parent is more than a catalyst as we do get often used up: we get used up emotionally, energetically and financially – if not physically.The biggest characteristics we humans are fortunate to have, in comparison to other primates, is our ability to communicate. At this crucial time of the year, as a parent we should do all we can to help facilitate an effective communication channel between our child(ren) and all people involved in their circle of influence. This circle of influence starts with the parent(s), other members of the family, friends, and very importantly teachers and other professionals our children interact with.


The power of dialogue

I suggest that you begin that conversation right now. Start having conversations with your child about how he or she is getting on in school at the start of the academic year. The sort of things you could be speaking about are: how they are getting on with the new teacher, new subject/activity; what they’ve enjoyed so far this year; and what they wish was different to the way it is.

One thing I’ll suggest is that the conversation ought to be had in the absence of electronics – both for you and for them. I’d even go to the extent of unplugging the home phone if that will distract either of you. The TV should not be on and the mobile and tablet should all be turned off and very far away from where the conversation is taking place.

Below is a link to a previous article on a  related subject