Whether you and your kids are gearing up for the first day of school, or you have a week or two under your belt, here are tips to make it a good year for the students in your life.
[3 MIN READ]
As summer fades into a fond memory, and you and your kids are preparing for the first few weeks of school, the emotions can run high and things can seem overwhelming. Launch into the year with these three helpful tips.
1. Encourage the homework habit
Set up a special place at home for your child to do homework. Having a designated space makes it easier — and even exciting and enjoyable — for kids to do their assignments. Create a place that is:
- Quiet and without distractions
- Always in the same location (if possible)
- Equipped with plenty of light and supplies
- Roomy enough to spread out
Other ways to build the homework habit include:
- Make sure there’s enough time to do assignments
- Set a rule that all electronics (including TV) are not on during homework time
- Supervise internet use if it’s needed for homework
- Encourage stretching and short breaks – even basic breathing exercises
Talk with your child’s teacher, about any struggles he or she may have with understanding a particular subject or being able to focus. If focus is an issue, reach out to the school’s counselor or your doctor.
2. Make healthy living a habit, too
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies show a strong connection between healthy behaviors and doing well with grades, standardized tests and class attendance. Help support your child in these behaviors:
Your school may require you to provide up-to-date immunizations and shot records. Aside from that, it’s a good idea to have your child get a preventive check-up. Most health plans offer a no-cost preventive screening for children and teens. Learn more.
Healthy eating choices
Research shows that kids do better in school when they eat healthy, balanced breakfasts and lunches. If your child eats at school, check with the school to make sure it follows standards set by the US Department of Agriculture, which says schools must offer healthy choices such as:
- Fresh fruit
- Low-fat dairy products
- 100% fruit juice
A healthy way of life
Keep in mind a few simple ways to help your child choose a healthy way of life:
- Decide on a bedtime that allows your child plenty of sleep
- Encourage exercise and physical activity
- Limit screen time (consider using it as a reward for homework and chores)
3. Ease school stress
Just like adults, kids can feel overwhelmed by a busy lifestyle – feeling like there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it. Here are ways to help your child cope with a stressful day:
- Stick with family routines. Enjoying a family dinner together — no electronic devices allowed — can help ease stress.
- Listen closely to your child. Listen closely to learn what’s causing stress and work with your child to resolve the problem.
- Give your child control. When you let your child make certain choices (within reason), they feel like they have more control over life. This can improve your child’s response to stress.
A stressful day or two is hard enough, but sometimes kids are dealing with more than the stress of forgotten homework. Recognize signs of more serious stress in your child:
- Increasing withdrawal, unhappiness or depression
- Problems in school or relating with friends or family members
- Being unable to control impulsive behaviors
- Behavior that is not normal for your child, like temper tantrums or extreme anger
If these signs of stress don’t decrease or fade away, get advice from a health care provider, school counselor or therapist. They could be signs that you child is working through much larger challenges.
Some states are starting to recognize the importance of providing mental health days for children.
Some states are starting to recognize the importance of providing mental health days for children. Just as self-care is important to adults, the benefits for children can pay dividends into the next generation.
Be realistic — and optimistic
As you and your child face a new school year together, try to strike a balance between realistic expectations about the year ahead and being optimistic about how things will go for your child. Follow the above tips, provide a safe and dependable home life and build your child's feelings of self-worth by celebrating successes both big and small.
Looking for more information about helping your child with stress and overall health? Talk with a doctor about resources. You can also find a Providence pediatrician by using our provider directory. Or, you can search for a primary care doctor in your area.
Are you and your kids ready for #backtoschool? Share tips with other #womenshealth readers @psjh.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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