When kids head back to school each year, it’s an exciting time with new school supplies, new clothes and new beginnings. Some kids and teenagers, though, feel more anxiety than excitement at the thought of a new school year. Here are a few suggestions to help them face the year with more confidence and kick the anxiety to the curb.
Start the Day Off Right
Getting the day off to a good start can set the tone. Kids often take their cues from their parents, so your upbeat enthusiasm will help them to be excited rather than nervous. Try playing their favorite song to wake them up each morning instead of an alarm clock. You could even make a playlist for the week and let them help pick the songs. You can also make it a point to sit down for breakfast with them, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. Giving them a chance to say what’s on their mind can be invaluable.
You can also write positive, inspirational notes to them that you slide into their backpack or lunchbox. This can give them a quick pick-me-up if their day starts to get rough. One last morning tip: Stop the chaos. Make your mornings calm and orderly instead of rushing around, and this will help your kids get in the right frame of mind.
Ease Into the Work
Don’t wait until the first day of school to shift back to the school-year schedule. Plan ahead so you can start adjusting bedtimes and waking times a couple of weeks before school actually begins. Then you can gradually move them earlier until you’re at the right point for school. This will give your kids’ bodies a chance to adjust gradually to a new sleeping schedule and then be ready to go once school actually begins. You can also talk to their teachers about taking the same approach with easing into homework. Ask them to go easy on the assignments in the first few days, and then they can gradually increase the amount of homework that is due.
Model Healthy Eating Habits
It’s perfectly normal to lose focus on eating healthy over the summer, but it shouldn’t be an everyday occurrence. Now that your kids are going back to school, this is a great time to re-establish healthy eating habits. You want your kids’ bodies and minds to be healthy as they continue to grow, and eating the right foods can make a positive impact on their behaviors. So get the whole family on board by serving well-balanced meals that include fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains. Sugary foods and oily, fatty foods should be avoided.
Because your kids need to meet their daily nutrition requirements, invest in a good children’s multivitamin. It helps prevent nutrient deficiencies, as well as boosts the immune system with Vitamins C and D to help fight sickness. If you buy a multivitamin that comes with probiotics, your child’s gut health can also benefit.
Create a Homework Space
Creating a designated space for your child to do their homework will also help them feel more equipped to handle the school year. When you set up the space, make sure you minimize distractions by keeping it an area where kids only work on school assignments – no games, TV or other toys allowed. Make the space practical and functional, almost like a small office. You can include a desk for doing homework, along with necessary school supplies and a kid-friendly laptop if you need it. When choosing a desk, remember to get the appropriate size for your child. Make sure it has room for storage as well. If you’re pressed for space, consider a corner desk which maximizes function with a minimal footprint.
A cozy reading nook can also give your kids a great space to get absorbed in a book. The four basic elements you will need to provide for an ideal nook are good lighting, comfort, privacy and storage. Get these things in place, and your readers will be happy to stay for hours.
Getting organized at home will help kick off the school year on the right foot as well. You can have a backpack hook for each kid so they know where to put their school stuff when they get home. You can also use a planner to keep meal plans, doctors’ appointments, papers and other school materials organized. You may also need individual folders for each kid to keep assignments and drawings they bring home to show you.
Clothes are another big organizational issue as well. Instead of running around every day trying to figure out each kid’s outfit, try picking out a week’s worth of outfits at the beginning of the week and hang them up arranged by days. This will eliminate much of the stress of the morning routine.
Your kids have enough to be anxious about as school starts. Try taking care of the things mentioned above for them, so they can focus on doing their best and having fun.
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Ms. Wilson worked as a teacher for decades. She believes knowledge is the key to a more successful and fruitful life.