Tips for a seamless return to school

Accomodating a new classroom of learners is a big task for any educator. University of Sydney health and education experts share their tips to help kick off the new school year and encourage kids to achieve their best.
Jan 25, 2017

1. Dealing with anxiety and bullying

Some children worry about returning to school because they might be experiencing bullying. Encourage children to speak up by coming to a teacher or parent.

"This will help them feel validated for their concern. If they or someone they know is being treated poorly, let them know it is a good thing to do something about it soon so the problem can be rectified before further hurt is caused," said Dr Andrew Campbell, Psychologist, Faculty of Health Sciences

2. Getting off to a good start

Parents and educators can help students get off to a good start at school by helping children understand the transition to school and talking about the expectations that children and parents might have. It is important to establish strong teacher-parent relationships and ensure that communication stays open.

“Learning in and through the Arts – whether it be, for example, fostering creativity and imaginative play, engaging students in learning across the curriculum, motivating reluctant readers – can enable children to develop confidence, discipline, critical thinking, perseverance and problem-solving skills which can enhance their social and emotional wellbeing as well as their academic success during the school year,” said Prof Robyn Ewing, Professor of Teacher Education and the Arts, Sydney School of Education and Social Work.

3. Develop clear speech

An important foundation for literacy success is clear speech.

“Children’s speech should be clear and understood by others by age four years. If parents are concerned about their child’s speech, the best time to seek help is during the years before school—the toddler and preschool years," said Dr Elise Baker, Discipline of Speech Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences.

“Without help, children who start school with speech problems face an increased risk of reading problems. With the right help at the right time, children with speech problems can learn to speak well and read well.”

4. Encourage reading

“Children’s literature is a great catalyst for children to learn the skills of reading and writing. More importantly, reading for pleasure is related to habits of the mind that cut across issues of socioeconomic status, support lifelong learning and encourage empathy," said Assoc Prof Alyson Simpson, English and Literacy Education and Pro Dean (Education), Sydney School of Education and Social Work.

5. How to identify giftedness

Gifted children can be overlooked in a busy classroom. In this case underachievement is a problem.

“Early, sensitive and accurate identification is key to providing appropriate ongoing support for gifted children.

“One of the greatest challenges for teachers is understanding the socio-emotional and cognitive needs of gifted children in order to support them and their families,” said Shirley Koch, PhD Candidate, Sydney School of Education and Social Work.

6. It’s all about collaboration

Welcoming a new classroom of learners and accommodating the diversity of learning needs is a big challenge for teachers.

“Quality learning can be achieved by optimising joint effort among adults. Collaboration between parents, health care providers and educators can have an important impact on healthy child development, school readiness, and educational achievement.

“Teachers collaborate with a wide range of educational and related service providers to enable students with diverse learning needs to get the most out of school. There are many ways for educators to make more effective use of therapy and other related support services at school so that all learners benefit,” said Dr Michelle Villeneuve, Occupational Therapy Discipline, Faculty of Health Sciences.