The transition from Summer to school can be rough on families. Every new school year comes with its own set of challenges. Parents and their children may feel stress or anxiety about the unknown or the new experiences. Even after the first month of school, you or your child may be feeling anxiety. You are not alone. There are steps you can take to help develop confidence as you move on through the school year.
- Prepare your family emotionally/physically
Provide a safe place where your child can share their thoughts, feelings, and questions with you about the upcoming school year. Having a special chair or sofa or cuddle pillows might be just the thing that will put the child at ease talking about her day. No one wants to feel grilled or interrogated, so make this a relaxing spot where talking is easier. Lending a listening ear helps her realize you are there for her. If your child feels negative feelings about what is going on at school try to shift their perspective to thinking about some of the more positive aspects they usually enjoy. Recognize that you may not have a solution to every problem and there are times when it is best to seek the help of a professional. For example, if your child is continually struggling academically there could be an underlying cause such as ADHD or other learning disability. A professional can help you discover the root causes of the child’s struggle.
- Prepare your family physically
With the approach of flu season, the physicians at Anderson Hills Pediatrics recommend a flu shot for all children 6 months and older. A flu shot will reduce their risk of severe illness and hospitalization due to the flu. Careful hand washing is the most effective way of reducing germs and infections in school.
Children who eat a healthy breakfast and lunch will have more energy during the school day and be in a better frame of mind to learn. Ways to do this are:
- Focus on healthy snacks. Offer cut-up fruit, vegetables, yogurt, and cubed cheese.
- Substitute water and milk for sugary drinks and juice.
- Look at the school lunch menu together. If there is a choice of foods, discuss the different options.
- Prepare lunches and snacks the night before so there is less stress in the morning.
To ensure adequate rest, children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per day and teens should sleep 8 to 10 hours per day on a regular basis. To ensure the best quality sleep, remove screens at least 30 minutes before bed. They will object at first, but screen time at bedtime just increases the chances of insomnia or poor sleep. You can reward them each afternoon with a prepared treat or privilege if they went to bed on time without an argument over their screentime.
- Prepare your family academically and socially
During the Summer children typically are allowed more screen time than during the school year. One thing you can do is to start cutting back screen time as a family. If Mom and Dad put up their phones upon arriving home, it will be easier for the youngsters to follow suit. Offer them a book they can read for leisure with a theme or topic they are interested in. Give them opportunities to draw out their creativity through fun art/science projects. Get out the board games and play cards for 30 minutes after school or after dinner. Serve dessert after the family enjoys the game time together. Make one evening on the weekend tech-free. Find projects like scrapbooks, crafts, woodworking, trips to concerts or museums or science fairs or sports to fill up the time usually filled with screens. Research shows that screen time is detrimental to human interaction and social skills. Parents are the most important factor in preventing emotional and social deficits in their children. You can do this!!
- Prepare your home
Providing a safe, quiet environment is crucial for your family’s success in the Homework Wars. Create a set apart space in the home for homework and studying. Be sure to stock the area with supplies that the child may need such as paper and pens. Post a family calendar and memo board on the wall or fridge so everyone can know what is going on. If someone must listen to music or podcasts while others are studying, enforce quiet hours by providing earbuds and /or sound-silencing headphones. Schedule a few minutes of family time after the quiet hours and check In with each child to see how he is doing. Praise each one for their effort and participation in the evening’s success. A healthy snack during this check-in will add reinforcement. Encourage your kids to lay out their clothing, and to shower the night before, while you pack their lunches in advance. The Mornings will have less mayhem by preparing ahead.