Wellness Matters

8 Tips for a Better Start to the New School Year

August 08, 2016

School seems to be more and more stressful, especially when children are starting a new year. Please offer some guidelines for “back to school success” for children and their parents.

Homework, soccer practice and teacher conferences mean one thing: BACK TO SCHOOL! Kicking off a new school year brings excitement, anxiety and fear as your child transitions into a new grade. But there are simple steps you can take to ensure success.

Success or failure in school starts at home. Studies link poor academic performance to factors such as lack of sleep, poor nutrition, obesity and poor parental support. Thriving students show healthy habits, consistent routines and good communication. Understand that your child cannot perform to his or her best ability if he or she does not feel good or prepared to start a new school year. Here are a few tips and tricks to set your student up for success.
  1. Make an appointment for a wellness checkup. Is your child up-to-date on all immunizations and physicals? If your child plans to play a sport, don’t forget the physical exam.
  2. Attend the open house. This is especially important when your child is transitioning from one campus to another. You both will want to be familiar with new surroundings, expectations and rules.
  3. Nudge your child into a sleep routine. Bump up bed time and wake up time a few minutes each day to ensure your child will be rested and energized for the first day. Sleep is the secret weapon to school success.
  4. Encourage your child to stay in shape. Suggest a new activity such as joining the soccer team or running club. Being active every day helps lower obesity, decrease stress and helps your child make new friends.
  5. Show your excitement. Don’t wait until the last minute to fill out paperwork or buy school supplies. Make buying school supplies a special activity to prepare and excite your child, not a last-minute chore that you obviously dislike. 
  6. Organize your child’s binders, notebooks and designated homework spots. This small gesture allows kids to develop a routine, keeps them from losing supplies and provides consistency.
  7. Talk often with your child about how he or she feels. Give your child the chance to talk about anxieties, successes and disappointments about each day. Create opportunities to discuss what’s going on in the classroom and with teachers and peers.
  8. Meet with your child’s teachers and stay in regular contact. Use phone or email communications to understand, and address concerns and behaviors. This lets your child know you are interested – and watching!

When you are optimistic and excited about school, your child can’t help but be as well. Expecting your child to succeed is perhaps the most important way you show support when beginning a new year. This does not mean demanding that your child get straight A’s, be the top varsity athlete or become the best tuba player. Just let your child know you expect his or her very best. This can help your child learn to be proud of what he or she can accomplish.

If expectations and routines are clear from the beginning, children have a greater chance of success in the classroom. That means optimal learning, mental stability, resilience and a terrific start to the school year.

About the Author

Hanna Coble, LCSW, MSW is a clinical social worker at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital.

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