By Ashley Williams Carver, MD
The time has come again for preparing to head back to school. There is a flurry of emotions including stress, nerves, excitement and elation. In order to relieve some of the nervousness and stress that can come with starting a new school year, here are a few simple tips for both parents and children to help make the transition into the school year easier.
First things first: sleep habits
Reestablishing sleep-wake cycles are going to be critical to your child’s success at school. Children should get ample sleep in order to perform well in the classroom. This means setting a schedule and implementing them in the initial first and second weeks prior to school starting. Remember, your child on average should be getting between 9-12 hours of sleep! Good sleep hygiene is also key – avoid electronics 1-2 hours prior to bed time and TV in the bedroom. A small night light is okay for younger children but it’s best if the room is dark and cool.
Second: talk with your kids
Have open conversations with your child about their feelings regarding the upcoming school year. Figure out what your child is excited about and what they are nervous about. Try to ease any concerns if you are able. For example: your child is transitioning to middle school, but they are nervous about finding their locker or homeroom. Try to do things like schedule a time to do a walk through at the school with them before the first day so they feel more comfortable. Encourage your child to think of what they enjoy about school and focus on these to create positive associations.
Lastly: be connected
Parents and children should try to attend orientations, events, etc. together. This will allow the child to feel supported while giving parents a bird’s-eye view on issues their child may be having as well as providing an avenue to obtain help or additional resources if needed.
Ashley Williams Carver, MD, is a pediatrician with Mission Pediatrics – McDowell. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Carver, call Mission Pediatrics – McDowell at 828-652-6386.