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How to ease your child back into a new school year

Posted on by Christine M. Stabler, MD, MBA

 

If you’re like many parents, you likely let bedtime and other structured routines slide a bit as your family enjoyed the more relaxed pace of summer. That can be a good thing…until the school year begins. However, with a little planning, the transition from sun and fun to classes, extracurricular activities, and homework can be easier for everyone–especially your child.

Start early to reconnect

While getting away for one last trip may sound like a great way to end the summer, everyone in the family may benefit more by staying home. Use that final week or so to re-establish the school-day rhythm and help put your child at ease. Read on for some tried-and-true tips.

  • Arrange play dates with friends from school to re-establish connections that may have been dropped for the summer...or create new ones!
  • Move bedtime to an earlier time. Insufficient sleep is linked to lower academic performance and health issues in all ages of children and adolescents—and adults, for that matter. You may be surprised how much sleep is recommended:
    • Children 3 to 5 years of age--10 to 13 hours (including naps)
    • Children 6 to 12 years of age--9 to 12 hours
    • Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age--8 to 10 hours
  • Have your child practice getting up and dressed at the same time every morning. Start eating breakfast, lunch, and snacks around the times your child will eat when school is in session.
  • Get your child used to leaving the house in the morning by planning activities the week of two before school begins. Hustling your child out the door will be less painful if summer habits like relaxing in PJs after breakfast are broken in advance.

Preparing emotionally for the first day

If your child seems nervous, gently remind them there a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. This may happen at any age. Fortunately, teachers know students have jitters and will make an extra effort to put them at ease.

  • Create positive anticipation by reminding your child how much fun it will be to see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh positive memories about previous years.
  • Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your student can walk to school or ride the bus.
  • If your child is entering a new school, attend any available orientations and take the opportunity to tour the school before the first day.
  • If you feel it is needed, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day.

With just a little bit of planning and TLC, your child will be off and running to another successful school year.

 | Family & Maternity Medicine

Christine M. Stabler, MD, MBA, is a family medicine physician with LG Health Physicians Family & Maternity Medicine and Vice President for Academic Affairs for LG Health. Education: Undergraduate–Pennsylvania State University; Medical School–Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University; Residency–Lancaster General Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program; Fellowship—Temple University Hospital.

 
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