Answers to your children’s questions about returning to school

How to boost my memory?

André Giordan, former schoolteacher: The brain is not a muscle, but the more you train it, the more effective it is… By allowing you to quickly find a concept or a past experience, memory is the key to success in class. No need to consider electrodes implanted in the skull to improve your faculties or drugs: simple tricks have shown their validity.

It is not by reading a text once, even attentively, that you will retain its content. The best way is to review it several times in different forms. For example: by reading it, by writing the essentials or by making links, diagrams. We can also associate the information to remember with funny things or well-known characters and then, with it, create a story.

It is better to spread out the memorization times rather than to accumulate them at the last moment: the evening of the course, three days later, then the day before the test. Sleep consolidates memory. During this, the neurons establish new connections between them and fix the ideas. Students who revise their lessons in advance retain better than others.

Fabienne Dulieu, pediatrician: If we eat a balanced diet, sleep enough and our rhythm is not always upset with Saturdays and Sundays that are too different from the week, this will have a good effect on memory. It is also good to have regular physical and/or cultural activity. What boosts memory is also to make your imagination work, to read, to listen to others, to laugh with your friends.

I go to 6th grade. Do I have to go to bed at 10 p.m. instead of going to bed at 8 p.m.?

Fabienne Dulieu: Ideally no, don’t change your pace when you go back to college. You can shift a little if you want to do more things in the evening: perhaps going to bed at 8:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. But even to a bigger one going to high school, I wouldn’t advise going to bed at 10 p.m. At night, the brain sorts and categorizes everything you have learned. A child needs an average of 10 hours of sleep per night. Because more than us adults, you learn a lot of things during your days. The body also makes hormones (materials created by the body to help organs function properly) that allow you to grow taller in the morning.

In college, will I have a lot of homework?

André Giordan: In college, you risk having a lot of homework to do and knowledge to learn. But don’t panic, just get organized… Homework plays a central role in academic success. Organize your desk to easily find books and notebooks. Put on colored dots to easily identify each discipline.

In college, you have to take advantage of every off-peak hour to move forward. Try to make yourself a little schedule with moments of work and moments of entertainment. On weekends, work more in the morning, even if it means replacing the lie-in with a nap! The morning is the time when we are most effective cognitively (which concerns learning, the fact of learning).

On a daily basis, the ideal is to start learning after a real snack, which must be an important breath. Just before bedtime, you can also take a few minutes to review the next day’s lessons.

Please note: you don’t have to do your homework all the time while sitting in front of your desk! Learning takes effort, not necessarily pain: try to make it enjoyable. You can work on the floor at times, or read your texts while walking… You can study anywhere, as long as you are not distracted every two seconds. Choose places where you feel good, comfortable to think and write, especially quiet, away from temptations… The smartphone, social networks and TV are the permanent enemies of your homework.

How to stay much more focused in class?

André Giordan: Developing concentration from an early age is essential to lead to academic success. But how to do it effectively? Many sources of distraction constantly disturb your brain. They can be external when they are linked to the environment around you (noise, music, chatter, etc.). They can also be internal, such as emotions or different sensations such as cold, hunger or stress.

It’s not easy to stay focused when the lesson isn’t interesting, because the teacher distills it without challenging you or questioning you. Nothing makes sense and the slightest thing can entertain you. The ability to concentrate develops gradually with age. Before the age of 5, the child generally has trouble keeping his attention for more than 3 minutes. At ten, he can last 10 minutes. Adopting good habits is the best way to achieve this.

Try to find reasons to interest you. Ask yourself questions about the course topic. Make connections with people you know. Ask yourself what can it be used for? What can you do with it to get a good grade, etc. In any case, don’t wait… get your brain working!

Tips for feeling good

How to deal with the little anxiety at the start of the school year (stomach ache type)?

Fabienne Dulieu: Going to school, to college, is a beautiful thing, a good thing. There is no reason to have a stomach ache or fear. At school, people are on the whole benevolent (nice), you have to leave confident, know how to discuss with the right people, talk to your parents or with a trusted adult when things are not going well. There are times when maybe, in a moment, someone will have said something awkward, when the exercise will be too difficult, the teacher too strict: that’s part of the vagaries of life. But tell yourself that this year, you will all progress, learn at your own pace, make experiences and make friends.

The question is rather why am I afraid? If it’s because I don’t know what’s going to happen, that’s normal, it doesn’t matter. If you’re really worried: maybe set up a ritual, a routine that makes you feel good: slip your favorite pencil into your pencil case, keep an SMS from your parents that reassures you, etc. The cuddly toy we had when we were little and which reassured us, we can put it in place differently. Maybe the “cuddly toy” is eating with so-and-so in the canteen, telling yourself that when you get home, you’re going to laugh with your brother or sister, etc. If, despite this, you are still anxious, you should talk about it with your parents and see your doctor if necessary.

How can I manage my stress when I have a lot of homework to do for the next day? Or reviews?

André Giordan: You can learn to fight your stress when you have too much homework or an assessment to prepare. College life is not always easy… stress is a normal reaction originally to ensure your survival in dangerous situations. It allows the body to remain in a state of alertness and to react quickly. Stress is therefore an asset in this sense. Without any stress, we wouldn’t achieve anything! You have to accept a minimum of stress in certain important situations. Prevent the “good stress” that motivates you to work from turning into “bad stress” that paralyzes you.

First element to fight: fatigue, a real stress accelerator. So you have to make sure you get enough sleep and eat well. Finally, breathing is a good way to combat stress, provided you adopt abdominal breathing (by the belly), which is deeper and longer than chest breathing. To achieve this, make yourself comfortable, sitting with your back well wedged in your chair or lying on your back, place your hands on each side of your belly, and imagine that your belly is a balloon that inflates and deflates. Get used to breathing like this when you feel that stress is gaining you, force yourself to inhale and exhale deeply, closing your eyes for several minutes, before resuming your homework.

How to avoid cold-type winter ailments, etc. ?

Fabienne Dulieu: In order not to be sick, we already do what we learned to do with the Covid: what we have just experienced must be of some use to us! 😉 So, when you’re sick: you wash your hands, you sneeze into your elbow, you wear the mask. It is an easy way to avoid the transmission of infections.

If you want to avoid getting sick, eat a good breakfast, sleep the time it takes for your body to create the right hormones that will strengthen your immunity, eat a balanced and varied diet. (…) And, above all, don’t worry: being sick is not serious, it happens to everyone.

How do I know if I’m facing a friend or just a boyfriend or girlfriend?

Fabienne Dulieu: Confidence is built gradually. In a class, you can be friends with everyone, but maybe only one person will be your real friend and all this will be seen with time, the good times spent. One thing is certain: a friend does not mean us harm, so do not trust someone who is not nice to you, who says hurtful things. For example: a real girlfriend/boyfriend doesn’t tell you that your skirt isn’t nice or that you’re too fat. If someone does bad things to us, it’s not a friend. In this case, talk about it with an adult.

If I have trouble training in sport, will the teacher scold me?

André Giordan: The sports teacher wants you to succeed like you do in other subjects. As it is more directive, it can jostle you a little. It’s not meanness on his part, it’s not a reprimand: it’s his way of making you move…

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