DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. The author is not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you need immediate assistance, call 911.
With the new school year just around the corner, many parents are considering how they can best prepare their children for the new academic year.
During the summer, many children become accustomed to staying up later at night and waking up later in the morning. Starting a new school year can be difficult, especially if children are still on their summer sleep schedule. Prior to the start of the academic year, it may be useful to adjust sleep and wake times in order to make the transition to the new schedule as easy and painless as possible.
Schedules & Organization
Routines are beneficial for children and adults alike. When developing a new routine for the academic year, inform your child of the upcoming changes to his or her schedule in advance. Very young children may benefit from visual aids, which allow them to physically see and anticipate their daily activities. Older children may benefit from the use of a daily, weekly, and/or monthly calendar, which helps them plan ahead and learn time management skills. In order to reduce last-minute decisions and stress, consider having your child choose his or her clothes and organize his or her backpack/school materials the night before school.
Children benefit from starting the day with a healthy breakfast. Prior to the start of school, shop for a variety of nutritious foods your child enjoys. Bring older children to the store with you and provide them with the opportunity to make choices about the nutritious foods they want to eat for breakfast and lunch. Provide younger children with the opportunity to make choices as well – ‘Would you prefer an apple or a banana?’ If your younger child brings his or her lunch to school, allow him or her to select their own lunchbox.
Set Reasonable Expectations
Set reasonable expectations for your child, and praise effort rather than outcome. Praise your child for the time, effort, and dedication he or she puts into homework and schoolwork. This teaches your child that effort matters more than the actual grade he or she receives in school. By emphasizing effort over outcome, you place a reasonable demand on your child that he or she can achieve.
Enroll Your Child in After-School Activities
Enrollment in after-school activities such as clubs, sports, and volunteer organizations can provide your child with numerous opportunities. Children can meet peers with similar interests and establish new friendships outside of school. Sports teach your child the importance of cooperation, teamwork, and commitment. Best of all, these opportunities can help children increase their self-confidence and self-esteem.