Starting back to school is an exciting and often stressful time of the year for parents and children. Dr. William Sears, a renowned pediatrician and a nationally known author, has some tips and advice on ways to help your child adjust to the start of a new school year and adapt to the structure of a school day after enjoying the freedom of summer.
Back to School Jitters
Starting a new school year can be an exciting time for your kids but it can cause some anxiety as well. When asked what he thought the toughest part of going back to school was, Dr. Sears said, "I believe the toughest part of going back to school for kids (and parents) is getting back into a daily routine, which can be difficult after a summer's worth of flexibility." Dr. Sears also notes that the most common problems that kids encounter at the beginning of a new school year are nervousness about returning to school. This can cause a lot of stomach problems for children due to the way they harvest stress. This can lead to other common problems like lack of sleep, constipation, and fatigue. Parents also need to watch out for lactose intolerance and food allergies.
Back to School Advice for Parents
There are a few things parents can do to help their kids make the transition from summer to a school schedule a bit easier. Dr. Sears states, "Communication is the key to every successful relationship, particularly with our children - so make sure your child knows to inform you about any health issues he or she is having." He also advised, "In addition, a fun way to keep kids healthy during the school year is packing healthy snacks in their backpack, but see if you can make them into cool shapes that they would appreciate."
Dr. Sears has some suggestions on how parents can help their kids stay healthy and on track throughout the entire school year. He states, "Throughout the school year kids tend to be more stressed and are exposed to a lot of new germs on a daily basis. In order to keep them healthy, I recommend kids take a daily dose of probiotics such as Culturelle for Kids. It is clinically proven to boost their immune systems and can ease digestive issues. Just mix the powder packet into any cold food or drink. I particularly like this product as it is dairy and gluten-free."
Supporting Your Child
The following are some additional basic tips for parents who want to help their kids get the new school year off to a great start.
- Ease your child into the new routine. It's going to be stressful for everyone acclimating to the new schedule. Practice your new routine a few days ahead of time by setting the clock, getting up early and starting the day. An established routine will help your child feel more confident and comfortable and will ultimately make the transition of going back to school smoother.
- Drive or walk your child to school the first day or so until he or she feels comfortable. Your support will be greatly appreciated.
- Meet the teacher. If your child is especially nervous about their new teacher, pay the teacher a visit for a short introduction. This can help put your child's mind at ease.
- Homework should always be a priority. Designate a quiet, special place at home for your child to do their homework. This should be part of their daily routine. Show interest in your child's work. Be sure to encourage and reinforce how important school and their education is.
Set a schedule. Bedtime should be at the same time every night. Getting a good night's sleep is important for staying healthy and for being productive at school.
Back to School Advice for Students
The general advice for students going back to school that applies to kids of all ages is to eat healthily, get a good night's sleep, do your homework and if you have questions or are having trouble in a subject, talk to your teacher. Additional ways you can help your child include:
Elementary School Students
It is important to help the younger kids feel excited and encouraged about going back to school. You can start by letting your child pick out their new backpack and lunchbox for the new school year. It may sound somewhat insignificant to you, but to your child, it's very important. Be sure to set goals and make it clear what will be expected of your child this school year. This is also a good time to incorporate reading on a daily basis so it becomes a normal part of your child's routine.
Middle School Students
Transitioning to middle school can be a stressful or exciting time for your child. It's typically a new environment and some children will adapt better than others. It is important to keep the lines of communication open with your child, adhere to a homework and bedtime schedule and at the first sign of any trouble at school, you must be proactive and talk to your child and the teacher about the situation.
High School Students
When your child is in high school, they tend to become more independent. At this age, it is important they stay on track. Be involved by attending the open houses, meeting the teachers and getting a feel for the classes your child is enrolled in. Be sure to communicate and work with your child's teachers. You should always encourage your child to participate in extracurricular activities. Also, your child will be much busier in high school and it is imperative that they have (and use) a planner to stay organized.
Relax and Don't Stress
There is some simple, yet important advice that Dr. Sears would you like to share with parents. "Relax." Dr. Sears reassures. "Particularly when your child is younger, he/she will become set in his/her ideas on just about everything - including the way food is prepared. Expect food fixations. If the peanut butter must be on top of the jelly and you put the jelly on top of the peanut butter, be prepared for a protest. It is a passing stage."
He continues, "Also, get children to eat veggies or fruits early! A way to have some family fun and incorporate this into our children's diet is planting a family garden. Garden-growing gives children a sense of responsibility, the pride of ownership, and they learn valuable lessons about how sun, water, seeds, and soil come together to make food. They are also more likely to eat the veggies and fruits that they see as their own creation."
Dr. Sears offers helpful advice when it comes to parenting and health care. He has written quite the library of resource books on various topics including health and wellness, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and babies, just to name a few. His latest book, The Dr. Sears T5 Wellness Plan: Transform Your Mind and Body, Five Changes in Five Weeks, will be released in January 2019. You can get more information and read more about Dr. Sears at his website, AskDrSears.com.