5 Ways to Ease Back-to-School Jitters

As a parent, this is the time of year when you’re busy scheduling haircuts, buying school supplies and coordinating new schedules for pick-up and drop-off. And while you’re working through that to-do list, it’s a good idea to help your child adjust, as well. The back-to-school butterflies are probably fluttering around in your young student right now. There are new teachers and new classmates to meet, and maybe even a new school to navigate, so a little nervousness is normal. Here are some tips for smoothing the transition.

  1. Set regular bedtimes. Nothing beats getting the right amount of sleep. And going to bed at the same time each night reinforces that healthy habit. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) credits adequate sleep with improved attention, behavior, learning, physical and mental health. So how much is enough? The AAP says 3- to 5-year-olds need 10 to 13 hours of sleep per night, while 6- to 12-year-olds need 9 to 12 hours and teenagers need 8 to 10.
  2. Establish a routine. Having everything organized – backpack in its spot, breakfast ready, lunch sorted – turns that morning slog into a comfortable formula that even the groggiest kid can manage. Looking for quick breakfast ideas? The August issue of Austin Family Magazine contains five fast answers for morning meals. And don’t forget to send kids off every morning with a reassuring hug and kiss.
  3. Encourage friendships. Some kids are naturals at making friends; others might need a little help. A few days before school starts, begin talking about what your child can do in certain situations – finding a seat at the lunch table or recruiting a playmate at recess. Help him or her come up with “back pocket” questions that will get a conversation started: Do you have a pet? What’s your favorite food? What did you do this summer? And look for opportunities for your child to sign up for clubs, where members with common interests can form a social circle.
  4. Set up a homework station. Support good study habits with a dedicated space for homework. It could be a corner of the kitchen table, a desk in the bedroom or even a crate that slides under the bed, but whatever form it takes, a reliable and well-stocked homework place will help your child stay focused on the task at hand.
  5. Be there. At the end of the school day, let your child know that you want to hear all about it. This means you’ll need to practice active listening – sometimes a tall order for busy adults. As your child talks, make eye contact and ignore distractions. Resist the urge to let your mind drift into formulating what you’ll say next. Ask follow-up questions to help you understand what he or she is saying.

The new school year is an exciting time. Here’s wishing you and your child a journey of growth and possibilities!

Austin Family Magazine serves the greater Austin area with up-to-date information and ideas that promote smart parenting and healthy homes. Pick up the latest issue at any local HEB, Central Market, or Whole Foods or visit austinfamily.com.

Sherida Mock is the editor of Austin Family Magazine.

All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to info@austinymca.org

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