Heading back to school following a relaxed summer can be a time of great excitement, and carries with it some anxiety for both parents and children. Parents can help to mitigate this by establishing a regular routine for their school-aged children, in an effort to make the 2018-2019 school year as successful as possible.
Here are some ways in which you can enhance your child’s back-to-school season:
Manage your child's sleep habits
Establish the sleep cycle of your child by enforcing the hours that he/she will keep throughout the school year. This way the child is well adapted to this new schedule.
Provide a healthy breakfast
Research supports the fact that a healthy diet helps children to develop and learn. Start the day with a healthy breakfast, which can help to increase focus, balance mood, and control weight. Include higher levels of protein and fibre, and lower levels of sugar to help enhance attention, concentration and memory. Instruct children to limit fast food and junk food, and teach them to make nutritious food choices.
Optimize backpack weight
Doctors recommend that school children’s backpacks should weigh less than 10-20 percent of their body weight. To keep backpacks lightweight, check their bags weekly and remove unwanted items. Students should avoid wearing their backpacks on one shoulder as this may strain muscles and affect their spines. Children should adjust their backpacks so that the bottom of the backpack touches their waist.
Ensure wellness visits and immunization shots are current
Take your child to your family healthcare provider and have them examined prior to the start of the school year. Make sure that your child's immunization shots are up-to-date. These vaccines help in prevention of serious illnesses and diseases.
Update the school regarding your child's medical conditions, such as asthma, allergies, diabetes, or psychological conditions - including communicating the medications they take. As well, provide contact information for your pediatrician and medical emergency instructions, if any.
Prepare checklists and schedules
Kids are busy with homework, grades, activities and peer pressure. To help them reduce stress, prepare books, supplies, clothes, homework and lunch/snack boxes the night before school in order to avoid the last-minute rush. Prepare important checklists, schedules, a list of names and phone numbers to contact.
Visit the school in advance
A new school, classroom or teacher may make children nervous initially. Rehearse these situations by visiting the new school or classroom before the first day of school. Talk with your child and try to resolve their concerns regarding this new situation.
If it is a new school for your child, attend their class orientation along with them and take an opportunity to tour the school before the first day. This will help to make your child more comfortable in the new environment. If possible, touch base with your child's new teacher and try to build a good rapport.
Prepare a homework routine
Right from the beginning of the year, prepare a schedule for doing homework and try to stick with it. Create a conducive environment for study that is free from distractions. During homework, offer assistance, but never complete homework for the child. If your child faces challenges while completing their homework, discuss this with their teacher.
Institute the habit of active listening with your kids. Let them know that you care about what they have to say. This creates a bonding experience with your children and they may feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts, views and feelings. Accompany your child to school and pick her up on the first day and ask her to share her experiences.
Set safety norms
Inform your children to refrain from talking to strangers. Also, provide them a code word that only you, your children and trusted family members know if someone else has to pick them up from school. Teach them to find a parent or teacher immediately if they don't feel safe.
Support against bullying
If your child is being bullied, inform school officials about it and attempt to resolve the situation. Your child may not speak up for fear of ridicule or retaliation. Encourage your child to tell you what they are experiencing. Teach him to be comfortable and calm during such conditions and seek the help of the school administration.
Parents should share with their children that the start of the school year is an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones, while continuing to learn and grow as an individual.