The sun is shining, the grass is green, and it’s warm. Children are lining up for their classrooms with their new backpacks and school clothes. Photos are being snapped, and parents are chatting with each other as everyone waits for the bell to ring. The first day of school is rife with excitement and energy. Some children seem happy, some nervous, and some quiet. One thing is true, though. As soon as the bell rings, the school year begins.
Ideally, preparation for the beginning of the school year should start a few weeks before that moment. A lot of things help a child prepare for that time, and as parents know, it’s not just about the school shopping.
Adjust into a healthy sleep routine
Being rested improves memory, mood and motivation, all of which are important for the start of school. During the summer, with longer periods of daylight and fewer early morning activities, kids’ bedtimes often become later and later. If parents wait until school starts before getting their children ready, kids can become easily overtired and emotional. Because it takes people a few weeks to adjust to a new, earlier sleep schedule, it will be important for parents to gradually provide earlier bedtimes, and earlier wake-up times so that their child is rested and ready to go when school starts.
Adjust to a new lunch/snack routine
School also brings new eating habits. Given how short public school lunch periods are, it is very important to ensure your children get back in the habit of eating breakfast. A good breakfast is essential during the school year. Also, you may work with your child on exploring healthy lunch choices that they can eat quickly, such as cheese, applesauce, and peanut butter. You may want to even practice monitoring how long it takes your children to eat certain foods in order to help make sure you can pick suitable foods for their lunches and snacks. For example, many children find that they can eat steamed vegetables more quickly and easily than raw ones. Although cumbersome, if it is the difference between food being eaten or thrown away, it may be an important consideration.
School Tips for Back-To-School Butterflies
Many children are worried about going back to school. Often it is the unfamiliarity that concerns children. It may help to visit their school over the summer, walk through, and see the general area of your child’s classroom. Arranging a play-date with a school friend on the playground may help to ease social discomfort. If you are fortunate enough to know your child’s teacher, sending an e-mail or stopping by for a quick hello will likely be very helpful. If your teacher is not available, even looking at the school’s website can be helpful.
If your child has been bullied or has had peer difficulties, starting school can be upsetting. Bullying is most common in situations that aren’t well supervised or when adults are not responsive to these issues. If your child has faced these issues, it will be helpful to connect her to a trustworthy adult at school, such as a counselor, principal, or playground attendant before school starts so she can feel safe and protected.
Starting some stress management routines at home can also be helpful. Teach your child deep breathing, and use them daily. You can practice at different times during the day, like before bed, when you are in the car, or when you are waiting for a sibling. The more skilled your child is with these exercises now, the more helpful they will be when school starts.
Remembering positive things from the previous school year can also be beneficial. Look at school pictures or pictures of classroom trips or activities to refresh your child’s viewpoint.
School Tips for Organizational routines
Finally, it will be good to develop some organizational routines before school starts. Clean your child’s room, and set up a good space to do homework. Refresh and organize homework supplies. Sit down with your child, and talk about the routine for the upcoming year. Write it down, and make a visual schedule. Explain what activities happen on what days, when homework will get done, and who will be involved. Think about ways to make things as simple and easy as possible or activities that may need to be let go if it is too busy. Be prepared to adjust to changes and give yourselves room for self-care and downtime.
For more information, feel free to contact Dr. Anderson at (319) 358-6520.