It’s that time of year again! Whether it’s a new teacher or a new school, going back to school can be overwhelming for some kids. So how do you prepare your child for the new year? Here are five tips to get kids off to a successful start:
1. Expect jitters
Whether your child is starting school for the first time, moving up a grade or going to a new school, stress is an expected part of the equation. How can you help your child prepare? Listen to his worries – don’t guess what concerns him the most. You may give him new things to fret about! Another anxiety reducer: Knowing what to expect. Visit the school and locate his new classroom, if possible, or take an online tour of the school. Create a routine so that your child is prepared for the first day and there’s no rushing around looking for shoes or a backpack. And when it’s time to drop him off, keep it short and sweet with a “See you soon!” In this video, psychologist Dr. Tamar Chansky discusses ways to swap first day fears for excitement.
2. Feed kids’ bodies and minds
Start the day right with a healthy breakfast (remember, you’re not supposed to skip breakfast, either!). These quick morning meals will give kids the fuel they need. If your child doesn’t eat lunch in the cafeteria, pack a lunch with a nutritional punch. Trade the chips for crunchy veggies or throw in a couple of pieces of dark chocolate for a treat. In this video, dietitian Samantha Heller shares more tips on keeping your child’s lunch fun and healthy.
3. Cultivate confidence
Some kids fear they won’t be able to do well when they move up a grade, especially if they’ve been told to expect more difficult work. One of the best ways to help your child start the year on a high note is to communicate your belief in her abilities to learn new subjects. Teach her how to use positive self-talk for those times when she gets down on herself. Use praise appropriately to build healthy self-esteem, and help her embrace school projects that will stretch her knowledge and lead to higher levels of success and feelings of self-worth.
4. Help with organization
Kids can be notoriously disorganized – which can definitely impact grades. To help them stay on top of assignments, hang a white board in the kitchen where they can keep track of recurring assignments and tests. Children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) face even more challenges keeping track of papers, books, backpacks, and assignments. Partner with your child’s teacher to track your child’s progress from week to week. Separate the myths from the facts about ADD – and learn more ways to help your child succeed in school.
5. Watch for signs of harassment
Bullying is an epidemic in our schools. It’s so common, in fact, that each day some 160,000 kids miss school for fear of being bullied. And it’s no longer confined to the classroom or schoolyard. With a click of a mouse, cyberbullies can blast vicious rumors or demeaning comments about a child to dozens, if not thousands, of recipients through cyberspace. What can you do protect your child if she’s been bullied at school, on social media sites, or through text messages or email? Work with the school to get her the protection she needs. Sign her up for martial arts lessons to help bolster her confidence. And be vigilant to signs of cyberbullying. To learn more, take the Stop Bullying quiz and watch this Health Smarts video by pediatrician Dr. Tanya Remer Altman.