Summer has come to an end and it’s time for students around the nation to get back to school. Whether your children are starting their first day of kindergarten, entering their senior year or taking on college, the “back to school” season can be equally exciting and stressful. To ease the stressors that come with a change of routine, here are some tips to help your family have the best school year yet:
Establish Routines and Give Yourself Time
No one likes to feel rushed or stressed, especially after a relaxing summer. Prepare ahead of time to give yourself and your children time to ease into your new routine. Stay consistent with bedtimes, mealtimes and wake-up times to create a sense of routine and security for your children, but also remember to give yourself extra time in the morning to wake up without rush. Pack lunches and lay out outfits the night before and make time for a healthy breakfast to start your day off right.
Between work, school and extracurriculars, setting aside time to prepare and make dinner can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to get in a nutritious meal. Getting the proper nutrients is important, especially for children who are still developing. If possible, try planning the week’s meals ahead of time or make large dinners in the beginning of the week that will last for several nights during the week to come. Meal prepping can take the stress out of cooking daily meals while still ensuring you are getting healthy meals throughout the week. Having some healthy “grab and go” food options, such as fruits, veggies or granola bars, can also be helpful for the days that are especially busy.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Getting plenty of sleep is one of the best things a person can do for their health. Sleep not only helps us concentrate in the classroom, but boosts our overall mood, wards off illnesses and allows our bodies to recuperate from the day’s activities. According to the Sleep Foundation, school-age children should be getting anywhere between 9-12 hours of sleep every night to be at their healthiest and most productive. Make sure to be firm on bedtime, at least on the weekdays, and allow for your children to get plenty of sleep for the following school day.
If bedtime is a constant struggle in your home, you might want to try:
- Setting aside plenty of time to put on pajamas, brush your teeth, read a story and other nighttime activities to avoid a rush or pressure to get to sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
- Avoid large meals and caffeine before bedtime.
- Plan physical activities and exercises before bed to increase tiredness.
- Make sure the bedroom is comfortable, quiet and at a cool temperature.
Encourage Healthy Study Habits
We have long been taught that there is one way to study or learn, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Especially for children, there are many different ways in which they may learn. Some students prefer a quiet environment where they can read their textbooks and make flashcards, while other students learn best with hands-on activities and music in the background. Regardless of how they learn, it’s important to create an environment in which your child is able to study or do their homework without stress or pressure.
Regardless of learning style, many children thrive in academic settings that allow for:
- A consistent homework start time.
- A designated homework area.
- Scheduled breaks between homework assignments.
- A reward system to encourage completion of tasks.
Try Extracurricular Activities
Studies have shown getting involved in extracurricular activities is not only great for students to unwind outside of academic work, but it is also a great way to meet new people in a new environment. Do some research on your school’s clubs, organizations or sports and see if your child would be interested in participating in any of those activities.
It can also be helpful to plan weekend getaways, weeknight activities, play dates and other events for your child to look forward to. Just as an adult’s life shouldn’t just focus on work, a child’s life shouldn’t just focus on school to avoid burnout or a decline in academic performance.
People do best in any area of life when they know they have a support system. For your children, family is one of the most influential groups they can have in their life. From doing homework together and cheering them on at their sports games to getting involved with the PTA and scheduling parent-teacher conferences, find a way to get involved with your child’s academic life. It will not only encourage them to do their best and seek help when needed, but will give you a better understanding on how you can best support your child in the coming school year and beyond.
Sources: Benefits.gov, California State PTA, CDC, Sleep Foundation