2011 September 8

It’s always worrying for parents when a child dislikes their new school, or dreads the beginning of another school year. It can seem inexplicable: the child may enjoy the subjects they are studying, and have friends they are looking forward to seeing again, but even so, they may feel ‘down’, worried and even become tearful and frightened at the thought of school.

There are several ways to help a nervous or unhappy child get over the first days of the new term:

Memory banks for both sexes – instead of forcing your child to think forward, encourage them to think backwards: creating a scrapbook about the summer which records their best memories of the school break can be a good way of getting them into the groove of school again. The best way to use a scrapbook is to fill it from the front to the back with memories and from the back to the front with plans, so that a child can prepare pages for school trips, for birthday parties in the months ahead and for half-term ideas, all of which balance out the fun of school and the fun of holidays.

Self esteem for girls – sometimes it’s low self-esteem that triggers a bout of fear so taking a daughter for a haircut, or helping her revamp her wardrobe can be enough to remove the feeling of inadequacy. Don’t suggest it as an answer though, just plan a family trip to the hairdressers or suggest that you go through her school clothing with her while you talk over the problem … that way you can suggest a couple of items that would add to her clothing choices. For older girls, try offering a budget and letting them have a friend round to shop online together – this allows them to exercise the power of choice and to work out how to get the most for their money, both attributes that boost self-esteem.

Self-esteem for boys – often boys struggle with their feelings, so getting them involved in an activity where they can express their emotions, such as drama, can be the simplest way to release fears and tensions around school. Sports, unsurprisingly, are also a great safety valve, but rather than football or after-school activities, enrol him in a mixed age sport like a martial art. A class where they will be able to see and hear older people than themselves coping with challenges, making fools of themselves and getting over it, and winning and losing in public gives them the chance to learn the skills they need to feel secure at school. A martial art also teaches boys how to care for their appearance and clothing and to be polite in public: key features of a successful school career.

2009 September 10

gildankidspolo7480The Schoolwear Association, which is the trade body for the uniform industry, says that around a dozen schools a week are removing school ties from their list of uniform requirements.  There are several reasons for the dumping of the school tie:

•    Cost
•    Health and Safety
•    Old fashioned look.

But the biggest reason for getting rid of the school tie is that it’s no longer necessary.

A tie used to be the only way to identify which school children were from, but now that polo-shirts, T-shirts and even sweatshirts can be monogrammed in the way that ties used to be, it’s become redundant. Many schools in the UK actually prefer this layering of embroidered or printed uniform items because it was too easy by far for young people to take off their tie and become anonymous.

Polo-shirts have become the standard clothing item for many school uniforms, replacing the collared shirt. Children find them more comfortable to wear, while teenagers consider them less old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy, meaning that they are more likely to wear uniform to school in their rebellious years.

Parents are also happier, as replacing lost school ties was a substantial cost in many households – although it’s not impossible to lose a polo-shirt or T-shirt, it’s considerably more difficult not to realise they are missing at the moment they get dropped, so they are much more likely to be rescued from the walk home, or their role as a temporary goal post or blanket to sit on during a sunny lunch-break.

Wearing a school uniform is a relief to many parents and quite a few children because it means that new clothes for school can be budgeted for, and that the insidious form of fashion-bullying, based on designer clothing and brands, can’t happen.