By: Sarah Marsh
So, over the summer your daughter learned to play volleyball and the guitar, and your son is now an expert at swimming and rock climbing? That's great! The summer season is always such a great time to relax and have fun, but now that camps are over and school is starting again, what does your "normal" routine look like and how do you help your kids adjust to a new grade, new school, or new friends?
As parents it is a responsibility and a privilege to help guide and support children through changes and challenges. Here are some highlighted issues and tips for a smooth, uneventful (in a bad way) school year!
Do not minimize emotions.
Your teen's break-up after only 5 months might, in the grand scheme of things, seem to be a pretty easy situation compared to the grown-up challenges in your life; however, to a 17-year-old it might be the greatest loss she has experienced. In the same way, a 7-year-old child who remembers accidently wetting his pants during recess last school year might be dreading going back to school. Do not down-play their experiences. As a parent, take some time simply to be understanding and then offer some wisdom. Try, "I know this is a very hard situation to deal with right now. You seem to be handling it okay, but please remember that things have a way of working out. Don't let your worry stop you from experiencing all of the good in life."
Sleep really does matter.
You will learn in any general psychology course about the 4 cycles of sleep: N1 (falling asleep), N2 (light sleep), N3 (deep sleep), and REM (dream sleep). You will also learn about the need your body has for a decent amount of sleep and how the cycles work to slow your brain down and strengthen your body for the next day. So, why is it that we hurry around all day long and find short cuts to "save time," and still only allow ourselves 6 to 7 hours of sleep at night? Children need at least 10 hours of sleep, teens need at least 8.5, and adults are not much behind them needing at least 7.5 hours. These amounts of sleep help us to fall asleep, experience the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle, and then wake up refreshed and energized. Here is a chart (found on www.helpguide.org) that will help you gauge how much sleep your child needs - you might just be surprised at the amount you need, too!
Click here to view sleep chart.
If your child starts school at 8:40, he has to be to the bus stop to catch the bus at 8:00, which means waking up by 7:00 so he has time to eat a good breakfast, brush his teeth, and put on some decent looking clothes. With all of this being said, think twice before you let your 10-year-old talk you into letting him stay up until 10:30 pm (which we all know really means he won't fall asleep until 11:00). Spending more time asleep will mean more alert minds, which will help with learning and creating, communicating and reasoning.
Create a learning space.
Not only will having a designated space for homework help the child focus, but it will also help you as a parent not have to clear the kitchen table of calculators, pencils, and notebooks before or after dinner. Pick a spot in the house that is well-lit, out of sight of the television, and is not in the child's room. Having children's workplaces outside of their bedrooms will help them relax while falling asleep because they are able to disassociate homework/school from home/rest.
Be an anti-procrastination parent.
For a stress-free morning routine that doesn't involve yelling and crying, forgotten homework and misplaced jeans, try preparing everything the night before. At first, you may go to bed a little later than normal, but eventually you'll get the routine down and everyone will be doing his/her part.
Before bed: All showers and baths should take place at night. The warm water will be soothing and calm children down before bed. (Tip: use vanilla and lavender shampoo, which is used aroma therapeutically to make the body fall asleep faster.) Also, look over your child's homework just in case they didn't finish it. Finally, make sure all lunches are packed the night before. You will save a lot of time and frustration.
In the morning: Try to give only one instruction at a time. If you list 7 or 8 things, kids will lose track of their goal. By giving them one instruction at a time, they will be focused and will get tasks done faster.
Hopefully, these tips will help you make your house a much more organized and calm environment this school year!