Monday, August 22, 2016

"It's the Most, Wonderful Time, of the Year!"--BACK TO SCHOOL!

Welcome back parents, teachers and of course, students! I hope you had a fantastic summer vacation filled with fun activities, vacations, and plenty of relaxation.

A new school year brings excitement, a sense of renewal and, for teachers and students, the chance to create personal and professional goals/objectives that can be worked towards. For some kids, however, the transition back to school and the many adjustments (new teachers, new set of classmates, different routines, standards and pressure) can cause increased stress and anxiety.



To help ease with the transition and to continue to encourage healthy habits, here are some tips:
  • Start your kids on sleep schedule--this means allowing your elementary age child to get a MINIMUM of 8-10 hours of sleep per night. During the summer, it's not uncommon for children to go to bed later and for routines to be less fine-tuned, but it's important to shift things around so that your kids are going to bed at a decent hour. Remember, TV's, smart phones, tablets and computers emit a light that has been shown to making falling asleep more difficult, so be sure to take these devices away prior to bed time. 
  • Designate a homework area and an after school routine--this means allocating a distraction-free area of your home where your child can get her homework done...preferably one without the blaring sounds of a television. Decide when your daughter will complete her homework (though, I tend to believe the earlier, the better) and sit down and discuss the weekly schedule of extracurricular activities to ensure that there is enough time for school work, reading, and down time. 
  • Make time for unstructured time--this means exactly what it states. All kids, no matter the age, need time to themselves EVERY DAY where adult interference is kept to a minimum. I used to babysit a small child who, after 8 hours at daycare, wanted more than anything to just play pretend with her own toys without anyone's input/direction. I realised at that time that all of us deserve this kind of autonomy, and kids should be given the chance to create their own fun. 
  • Get back to healthy eating--this means planning meals and snacks that are optimal for learning (e.g., "brain food), maintaining focus and leaving your child feeling good and full. If your family's habits are anything like mine, summer plans often interferes with calorie counting and normal portion sizes. Parents, research has indicated the need to be extra mindful of so-called healthy foods that have a lot of added sugar (think juice, sports drinks, fruit yogurt, peanut butter, cereal) and opt for more natural alternatives (think homemade smoothies with real fruit, oatmeal, plain yogurt with a bit of honey or raisins, etc.). Consider swapping out white rice for brown rice, quinoa or whole grain couscous. 
  • Anticipate small, temporary changes in your child--this means to expect that the first couple of weeks of school may be difficult, and she may experience a bit of anxiety or nervousness. This may manifest into moodiness, an upset stomach, headaches, and health-related complaints, all of which are relatively common. Set aside 10-15 minutes (phones away!) per day to check in with your child to see how school is going. Brainstorm solutions with her for kid-sized problems (which, of course, she will experience!) and remember that part of growing up is learning positive coping skills, many of which need to be modelled for her.  Also, don't be afraid to reach out to her teacher to ensure that she is connecting with her peers, is engaged throughout the day and typically presents as happy and well-adjusted. 
As always, if there is anything I can personally do to assist your child at school, please call or send me an email at tcarnright@seisen.com. I'd be more than happy to connect! 

~Ms. Carnright