Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 September 2019

Dubai schools put on special activities to ease pupils' nerves

Recognising that the start of the academic year can be a daunting prospect to some pupils, a few schools organised interactive activities to help children break the ice with new classmates

Pupils are welcomed to Gems New Millennium School in Dubai for the first day of the academic year. Pawan Singh / The National
Pupils are welcomed to Gems New Millennium School in Dubai for the first day of the academic year. Pawan Singh / The National

Scavenger hunts and team building exercises helped ease pupils into a potentially anxious first day of school in Dubai on Sunday.

Recognising that the start of the academic year can be a daunting prospect to some pupils, a few schools organised interactive activities to help children break the ice with new classmates.

"During the first week, the school undertakes well-being initiatives that focus on the child to help them break the ice with peers," said Fatima Martin, principal at Gems New Millennium School.

About 70 new pupils joined the school’s existing population of 1,450 this year.

A special assembly was held in the morning when teachers welcomed new pupils and sang a song.

Ms Martin said parents needed to ensure children slept early, ate enough fruits and vegetables and had plenty water before going to school because a lack of these things can affect their mental well-being.

"Our teachers across the school give pupils a hug or a high five to welcome them," said Sampoorna Shetty, head of primary at the school.

“We will be welcoming all the new pupils at an assembly on the football field and have a song prepared for them."

Pupils line up for assembly on the first day of school at Gems New Millenium School in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
Pupils line up for assembly on the first day of school at Gems New Millennium School in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

Janecke Aarnaes, the head of Dwight School Dubai, said children often feed off their parents’ energy and suggested the adults try to remain calm to shield children from nerves.

"It is OK for your child to seem nervous. Within a few minutes the child forgets his or her nervousness because they get excited about the class," said Ms Aarnaes.

"The calmer parents, are the better it is for the child.

The school organised a scavenger hunt for middle school pupils and kept the day shorter for pupils in prekindergarten.

"We have a buddy system for all our new pupils so every pupil will be assigned a buddy who has been given the responsibility to help them settle in,” said Ms Aarnaes.

The buddy works with the new pupil for a few days and helps them navigate the school until they are fully settled in.

Not all of Dubai’s 208 private schools began their first term on Sunday, some are due to open on Monday after pushing back their start date by a day in anticipation of the Islamic New Year.

David Hicks, principal at Dubai International Academy Al Barsha said the school will welcome around 300 new pupils on Monday. The school opened its doors last year with 400 pupils and now has close to 750 pupils.

In the first week, pupils come in with their parents for ‘hopes and dreams sessions’ where they have meetings with their teacher to set goals.

"There will probably be lots of tears with children leaving their mum and dad after a long summer, some for the first time. But, we make sure we take care of them," said Mr Hicks.

Secondary school pupils will have a traditional induction, a welcome meet-and-greet and engage in team building activities.

Shakil and Shaheen Sheikh dropped their son Saqib, 4, at Gems New Millennium School on Sunday.

“It was not easy to wake him up as it was an extremely early start for him," said Ms Sheikh.

“We brought him to the school a few times and tried to get him excited about joining it.

“I am nervous about leaving him for the entire day but he seems OK.

“We have told him the school will have a slide and toys so he is excited to play."

Madiha Umair, a grade 12 pupil at the same school, began her last year on Sunday.

"It is difficult to be back after a long break but I am looking forward to meeting friends and we have teachers day coming up so I am looking forward to it," said Madiha, 17.

Updated: September 1, 2019 05:07 PM

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