If you have children, summer is a welcomed time for everyone when we don’t worry about morning rush hour or homework in the evening. Children can sleep in and stay up late. But what happens when summertime comes to an end and the new school year is quickly approaching? As parents, we find ourselves scrambling to get back to the routines of the school year. Some children become anxious and nervous during these transitions. We reached out to El Centro de Amistad’s mental health clinician, Yvette Quevedo, who offered these 10 tips for parents.
Get Some Beauty Sleep
Getting children’s sleep schedule adjusted again may be challenging yet it is crucial. “During the summer, children are sleeping in and going to bed late so we need to help children go to sleep at the regular time they would during the school year.” Yvette suggest you start a sleep schedule one week before the first day of school.
Set the Alarm
Teach children how to set their alarm clock. Giving them that responsibility is a step toward their independence. It also teaches children to wake up at a regular time each day.
Take a Tour
For children who are transitioning from elementary to middle school, go to the school and get them familiar with the campus. This activity will help them be more at ease on the first day of school. Often times, elementary schools will offer tours at the end of the school year but by the time students must go to middle school on the first day, they may have some trepidation.
There is so much anxiety around starting school and preparing children for homework. Helping your children process and normalize those feelings are important. “It can be scary starting another school year. Older students get nervous and struggle with anxiety around their classes and taking extra curricular activities. Change can be difficult for anyone and so we need to let them know it is part of life.”
Parents are on their phone often, so it’s important to set aside time to have an open dialogue with children. Ask more detailed questions so you establish a trusting relationship. By doing so, your children will feel comfortable coming to you when they have a problem.
Create Flash Cards
For little children, using flash cards that remind them of the activities they will do helps familiarize them with what activity is coming up in their structured routine. For example, create flash cards of brushing teeth, getting up from the bed, putting on a backpack, eating breakfast, reading, or play time. Begin by modeling the routine in the home that we know will be done in the classroom. Practice it a week in advance of the first day of school.
Eat a Healthy Meal
During the summer some children may opt to not eat breakfast since they wake up so late. Yet breakfast is necessary for children to receive the nutrients and fuel required for the day’s focus and energy in the classroom. According to WebMD.com, One study showed that kids who ate breakfast had higher test scores than those who didn’t. Most children don’t get all the vitamins and minerals they need from just lunch and dinner. When children don’t eat breakfast, they become tired, sluggish, and cranky. Their moods suffer and so do their test scores.
Learn about Afterschool Programs
Talk to afterschool program staff to help you prepare for afterschool schedules. “Parents worry about the work schedule and not being able to pick up children on time.” Getting children into tutoring, an afterschool program, or social activity will help fill the time before you have to pick them up.
Talk to teachers about special attention that may be required for your children. Examples of focused areas are sitting in the front row, not sitting them next to their friends if they get distracted easily, and finding strategies for success in the classroom. By reaching out and getting connected with your children’s teacher, you not only make an ally, you are also setting the tone for a successful working collaboration in the classroom.
Find Successful Strategies
Give your children strategies that will generate successful academic outcomes. Teach them how to avoid procrastination. Get an agenda, hire a tutor, or ask teachers for help whether it’s done after class or by sending an email just in case your children may be shy or embarrassed. Teach them to ask for extra credit to demonstrate that they are trying.