Back To School

Back to School

The approach of fall means back-to-school time for many children. Transitioning from summer habits like sleeping late, odd mealtimes and hours of video games and TV sessions to a more structured day of school, homework and extra-curricular activities can be a stressful time for children and parents. Parents can help with the transition by planning ahead and maintaining a positive attitude. This article, draws on recommendations of pediatric experts and of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and summarizes some tips for the back to school transition.

Reestablish Routines

Reestablish routines for bedtime and mealtimes, especially breakfast, starting at least one week before school starts. Try moving bedtime 10-15 minutes toward the goal time each night for that week. Explain the importance of not becoming overtired for school responsibilities. Anticipate some anxiety from the child, maintaining a positive attitude about summer’s ending. To the extent possible, clear your own schedule to be free to help your child acclimate to the school routine. Also, begin to limit TV and video game time. Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems and school difficulties. Children and teens should limit engagement with entertainment media to no more than two hours per day. In the school lead up week, encourage more quiet games, puzzles or reading to help the transition into the learning process.

Plan ahead by designating a spot for your children to place school belongings and to place important notes sent home for you. Backpacks should not weigh more than 10-20 percent of the child’s body weight.

Homework will again become an important issue. Create an environment conducive, ideally by making a work area (desk or table), well lit, with all supplies easily at hand so that he or she can do things without help.  Establish a homework schedule, without TV and with ample time. Agreeing with the child on a regular time and place for homework should eliminate the two most frequent cases of homework related difficulties.

Lastly, don’t over schedule. Be judicious about extra-curricular activities. Go for quality not quantity.

I hope that you can use these tips to get started on a very successful school year for your child!