Starting the school year off right

Pencils are sharpened.2 children posed in school uniforms

Backpacks are packed.

Lunch boxes are full of healthy options.

Yet your child still seems a bit anxious about getting back into the school routine.

The excitement of the first day of school can fade quickly, leaving children (and parents) feeling stressed, anxious and longing for the laid back days of summer. The beginning of a new school year is a great time to embrace structure and routine, uniting the family in a common goal of having a  peaceful  academic year. Below are a few tips to ease those post-first day anxieties and establish a firm beginning to a new school year.

  • Do prep work the night before. Getting kids out of bed, fed and dressed in the morning is stressful enough without having to run around searching for a pen to sign a homework assignment or attempting to make three different types of sandwiches. Take fifteen minutes each night to do some initial prep work. Lay out clothes (complete with shoes, socks, and accessories) the night before. Pack lunchboxes and set out non-perishable  breakfast items on the table. Be sure that all paperwork is signed, completed and tucked into the appropriate place before heading to bed.
  • Fuel up for the day. Before anyone heads out on a long car trip, they ensure their vehicle has a full tank of gas. Do the same thing for your children. Before sending them out the door for eight hours of learning, fill their stomachs with healthy and sustainable food. Avoid sugary cereals that will quickly digest and stick to lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. Have a picky eater on your hand? There are many websites that provide ideas for healthy and fun breakfast alternatives.
  • Go to bed. The human brain needs rest and plenty of it, especially if it is expected to learn and process new information on a daily basis. Children need  an average of  9-11 hours of sleep a night. Set a bedtime for school nights and stick with it. Be sure to enhance the mood of the house for sleep about thirty minutes before the arrival of bedtime. Turn off televisions, computers and cell phones. Dim the lights. Partake in quiet activities such a finishing up homework, reading a book or working a puzzle. A calm, quiet atmosphere signals the brain, letting it know that it is time to sleep.
  • Communicate. The best way to have a successful school year is to keep the lines of communication open. With younger age groups, this can be done by sharing the highs and lows of ones day around the supper table.   Older children are less likely to want to sit down and have a chat with their parents. Consider talking via text message or during the course of a favorite family activity. Understand that most children are not going to spontaneously share their feelings about school, however they do want to talk about these feelings with their parents. Be creative in finding ways to talk to kids and then be consistent with the communication.

Use these tips to get the school year started off right for the entire family and make academic experiences positive for everyone.

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