EASING THE BACK-TO-SCHOOL TRANSITION
It's that time again...
For many kids, few transitions are as thorny as the one leading from summer vacation to school.
The relative freedom of the summer months– later bedtimes, long stretches of uninterrupted fun at the beach, baseball park or backyard – can make it particularly difficult for children, particularly younger ones, to get back into the structured world of the classroom.
Fortunately, there are things parents can do to ease the transition. So, with the beginning of school on the horizon for students everywhere, we’ve compiled some quick tips that will help make back-to-school time easier.
Resume school sleep schedules: If your child has enjoyed some later nights this summer, it would make sense to reintroduce school bedtimes gradually between now and the start of school, so that the transition isn't so jarring. Health experts say that getting the right amount of sleep -- between 9 and 11 hours are recommended for school-aged children -- improves a child's mood, behavior and ability to learn. HealthyChildren.org offers some ideas for keeping bedtime routines manageable.
Go back to books: Regular reading can sometimes drop off during the summer. Now would be a great time to add reading sessions back into your child's daily routine -- it will sharpen his or her language and critical-thinking skills. This is especially crucial for younger children, experts say. Learn more from the American Academy of Pediatrics about the benefits of reading to children.
Be sensitive to anxiety: Starting a new school year can be stressful for children. Pay close attention to how your child responds when the subject of "back-to-school" comes up. Talk with your child about how he or she is feeling, and make special mention of the positives related to returning to school -- seeing old friends/making new ones, developing new skills, growing and becoming more independent, etc.
Make an early connection: Whether starting at a new school or returning to a familiar one, the beginning of a school year usually involves meeting at least one person for the first time. You can get introductions out of the way early by encouraging your child to write a letter to his or her upcoming teacher. Such a letter will serve as an ideal ice-breaker, and it will give your child and the teacher something to talk about on the first day.
Don't skip breakfast: Most of us have heard it a million times from health-care professionals: "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." But a distressing number of school-aged children, including teens, skips this meal, which results in reduced energy and concentration levels in the classroom. Blowing off breakfast can lead to a host of other health problems as well, experts say, so this is one time when it pays to take an old saying to heart.
Interested in reading more about back-to-school time? Check out HealthyChildren.org's special back-to-school E-magazine.