With the beginning of a new term after the Christmas and New Year break, which is usually packed with academics and extra-curricular activities, experts and parents suggest that with careful and deliberate planning, students will be ready to take on the entire year. Funmi Ogundare reports

The holidays are over and a new term is here. This period is usually greeted with mixed feelings as most parents who had taken part in the merry making and shopping associated with Christmas and New Year, have to start thinking of tuition fees and school materials to buy for their children.

Many schools resumed across the country on January 8, while some others will resume on January 15. Though the second term of every academic session is not as hectic as the first, it is still packed with academics and extra-curricular activities which require a great deal of thought and preparation.

Some parents opined that with careful and deliberate planning, parents and children would be ready to take on the entire year.

The Executive Administrator of The Foreshore School, Ikoyi, Miss Oyindamola Egbeyemi, said getting the students fully prepared for a new term is a challenge as parents may find themselves getting a little anxious around this time, especially for those who have children that are moving to new schools.

She added that children may find the prospect of a new term exciting or nerve-wracking, depending on their disposition, age and stage of learning, however, a few key things need to be done to ensure that they start the term properly and are not left behind or out of sync with school activities early on.

Considering the amount of time that students have spent out of school over the holidays, she said it is only natural that their bodies may have gone out of sync of the daily routine during the term, adding that in order to make it easier for their children to wake up early when school starts, parents need to enforce earlier and stricter bedtimes during the days approaching the start of the term.

“This way, they children’s body clocks start to adjust to the routine of waking up earlier and it becomes less of a chore when they eventually resume school,” she said.

During the holiday, Egbeyemi said children would have spent a lot of time resting and recovering from their hard work during the previous term, adding, “while rest is important, it is also imperative that students begin to get more mental stimulation ahead of the start of the term. Mentally engaging activities such as reading, writing and solving puzzles will provide that kick that will wake them up and prepare them for the work ahead of them when the term begins.”

The administrators said the first day of school could be daunting, especially for children who move to a new school. “There may be some fear of the unknown, unclear expectations, new friends to make, new academic challenges, new teachers, and so on. To overcome this, it is advisable for students to take some time to reflect on the previous term with a view of what is to come in the new one. They should think as far back as their first day up until the last day of the last term; taking note of all their achievements in-between.

“This would serve as a good confidence boost that reminds them of the challenges they overcame in the past; and therefore prepare their minds for those ahead. After a long break from school, parents and students may forget the new term’s activities. In order to adequately prepare, parents should retrieve the school calendars (if they do not have them already), review them and prepare for activities holding over the course of the term, some of which may require advance planning or purchase of special items.”

As a way of ensuring that the children are physically prepared for the new term, she suggested that parents should take them for a general check up with their doctors, adding that by so doing, any illness that may have not been noticed early enough will be nipped in the bud thereby giving the children a healthy start for the term.

Egbeyemi said some children may experience a growth spurt over the holiday, so there is need for parents to ensure that their uniforms still fit (for those who are returning to the same school).

“For those changing schools, parents must make all arrangements to ensure that they purchase new uniforms on time. In addition to uniforms, other materials that parents need to ensure that their children are equipped with include stationery, sportswear, bags and books.

“Following the Christmas holiday period, there is temptation to take the holiday a little further by the children, they could decide to skip one or two days of the beginning of the term. Missing out on school in any way is not advisable because the children and parents would have to catch up to get back on track. This could destabilise the students, thereby laying a weak foundation at the beginning.”

A journalist, Mrs. Biodun Ozurumba said there must have been a deliberate saving culture before the Christmas season, adding that parents don’t have to eat up all funds available to them just to celebrate Christmas.

“Parents should have paid their children’s school fees even before resumption. All school uniforms that needed repairs should have been tidied up; new ones must have been washed and kept ironed aside. All other things for school like provisions for the boarders can now be purchased and kept in air tight containers and labelled for the students.”

She added that parents should tutor their children on how to relate with their fellow students, obey their teachers and be of good behaviour.

“It has been a trying period for parents, but our children are our future, thus, it is important to leave mundane things for serious investment on one’s children,” Ozurunmba said.

A parent, Mrs. Bukola Ogunlade said for parents that are not capable of paying the exact tuition fee meant for their children, they could contact the school to know if they could pay in instalments so as to ease their burden.

She said parents should also get their children’s school and lunch bags, shoes, socks, uniforms and be sure that there is no need for amendment, adding that they should prepare the time table for meals and review the kind of snacks their children would be taking to school.

“Parents should start reminding their children of their resumption and their expectations in the term regarding their attitude in school and to their academics.”

The Zonal Coordinator, North Central, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Ilorin, Mr. Ohi Ojo said 2017 was a difficult year for many Nigerians financially, especially for those who have only one source of income, adding that the income could not meet increase in the cost of living.

He stressed the need for parents to take a holistic approach to paying their children’s tuition fees and choice of schools, saying, “unfortunately many parents are not aware of the great strides that have been achieved in government and public schools. These schools have more qualified and experienced hands that can take care of most needs of the parents thus freeing them with funds to do other things.”

He stressed that parents should be realistic enough to know where they can afford to send their children to. “If it is public schools so be it in order to have more funds for other commitments.”

Ojo added that the distance of the schools the children attend from their homes should be considered, saying that savings from transport cost can help pay for other bills.

“These are fundamental issues which must be honestly tackled in order to avoid annual financial embarrassment parents face in paying for their children and wards especially as many parents faced the brunt of recession of 2017.”

The Director, Omolewu Academy, Beckman Height, Okeho, Mr. Segun Omolewu expressed concern about the attitude of some Nigerians over the education of their children, saying that some parents prefer to spend more time and money in beer parlours and buying party uniforms popularly called ‘aso ebi’, rather than giving their children quality education.

“For us to prepare adequately for the children’s resumption, we need to cut down on certain things that are not needed at this period when the education of our children is paramount.”

He regretted that “in a town where my school is located, despite the fact that they cannot afford the school fees for quality education, they spend quality time every evening in beer parlours, and on weekends, they have three or four parties to attend and buy ‘aso-ebi’.”

The director said with the recession of 2017, there is need for parents to cut their coats according to their cloth, adding, “the Christmas period is a holiday period, so parents should reduce their going out. With the recession, there should be a reduction in the amount we spend on entertainment for the festivities and even fuel scarcity should not also reduce the plan for the children’s quality education bearing in mind that the future is more important.”