Happy New (school) Year

By Nancy Schneider, PHEc, M.Sc.

As adults, we think of the start of a new year as January 1.  We make resolutions and plans for the year.  For children, September can be seen as the New Year.  Heading back to school, new classes, new friends, new activities, and new opportunities.  It can be a bit overwhelming, especially if there has been a move or change of school.

When getting ready for school, it is important to plan the family schedule.  Discuss activity options with the kids-what do they want to do? What can the family afford, both in terms of time and money?  There are many places to checkout when planning activities.  There are sports activities through clubs, schools, or city programs.  Music is another option, one that has been shown to have scholastic benefits.  There are also many other types of activities offered through community centres, school divisions and other organizations.  These are often short-term in duration, and a great way to introduce your child to something new.  Check out programming at local universities, art galleries, theatres, or perhaps through a photographer.

It is important to plan for individual activities, but also to plan for family activities, a time for the family to spend together.  These activities generally do not need to be formal programs.  Rather, as a family, play board games, go for a bike ride, visit the library, rent a movie, or perhaps cook a meal together.  Basically, you want the family to have the opportunity to come together, spend time together, and have fun together.  You may even want to take turns choosing the activity that the family will do.  This will allow everyone to choose something they are interested in and when the activity is not their choice, it will allow family members to try something new and experience something a family member enjoys.  It might seem strange to plan for family time, but the reality is that with all our new opportunities that September presents, if we don’t plan for family time, we may miss out by filling our time with individual activities.

While it is wonderful to participate in an activity that is enjoyed, and spend time with family, children will also have schoolwork responsibilities to complete. This can create a very busy, full schedule.  However, one more item should be scheduled, “me’ time.  “Me” time is actually planned down time, time that is scheduled, with unplanned activities; time that allows a child to just be a child and do what they want (within reason of course!).

Whatever activities your family members decide to try, always remember to book individual time, family time, school time, and even me time.  It is a great way to organize a New Year!

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Nancy is a Professional Home Economist and has been employed by the University of Manitoba for over 23 years.  She has held management, administrative, and instructional appointments.  Her educational background includes child development, communication, human resources, and management.  She has experience working with pre-schoolers and their families, university students, as well as adult learners.