Back to School Tips!
By Tamara Johnson, MD
Summer is coming to an end which means it is time to get ready for school. But after months off, getting back into the habit can be hard. So, here are some tips to get your kids ready for the classroom.
Re-establish a Routine
Staying up late and sleeping in are great in the summer and make summer, well, summer, but it can make returning to school difficult due to the change in sleep habits. After months without bedtimes, it is important to re-establish sleep routines for a successful school year. You want to make sure your child has a regular bedtime and wake time, keeping in mind that younger children need about 10 to 12 hours of sleep and older children and teens need about 8 to 10 hours. If your child’s current sleep schedule is far from their desired bedtime, start by backing down by 15 minutes until the desired bedtime is reached. And if possible, try to make these adjustments before school starts to create a smoother transition into the school year.
Maintaining a consistent schedule is important whether your child is returning to in-person or virtual learning. If possible, make sure they have a dedicated workspace to attend classes and/or complete homework to minimize distractions. And don’t forget breakfast. Even if it is small, kids focus better on a full stomach.
Talk to Your Children
While some children are excited about returning, for others it can be a source of anxiety, especially if they are starting school for the first time, transitioning to middle or high school, or starting at a new school. If you add the stress from the pandemic, this can make things worse. It is no secret that our children are struggling and have been for quite some time, so stay alert. Ask questions, look for changes in behavior, and ask for help if you notice anything concerning. If your child is worried about starting or returning to school, then talk to them so they know what to expect. Many schools allow their students to meet the teachers before classes start. This allows your child to experience their new surroundings in a less stressful setting and with adults they trust.
Unfortunately, the pandemic is still around us, and with the appearance of newer, more contagious strains, many parents and students are worried about returning to the classroom. If you are concerned, try to speak with your child’s school or the school district to ask about their policies for keeping your child safe. Also, consider what you can do (masking, social distancing, etc.) to help protect yourself and prevent the spread. The COVID vaccine is also now available for children 6 months and older so you can speak to your healthcare provider if you are interested or have questions about the vaccine. But, do not forget about your regular check ups. Back to school is the perfect time for yearly physicals, sport physicals, and catching up on any missed vaccines.
Remember, returning to school after summer break can be a difficult transition. But, with the right tips, you can prepare them for success. Let’s make this new school year a good one!