As if the swift back-to-school sea change wasn’t enough, a quick Internet search of the words “back-to-school tips” is enough to make a mother faint – as if she had time for a nap. Here is the best of what I found online, with my own two cents here and there.
Get your kids’ eyes examined: According to ThinkAboutYourEyes.com, one of every four kids has vision problems, and this is more serious than you might think. Poor vision can be the cause for misdiagnoses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and that can pave the way for unnecessary psychological assessments, medications and stress for children and parents alike.
Little by little, pull bedtimes back to an earlier hour. ActiveBeat.com’s “Seven Healthy Back to School Tips for Kids and Parents” suggests taking some of the sting out of this transition by allowing quiet activities at bedtime such as reading or playing with soft toys, but with a ban on all electronics to prevent the sleep disruptions associated with devices such as cellphones, laptops and even TVs.
Another suggestion from the ActiveBeat.com article: Help curb your child’s anxieties about going back to school by talking them out together. Worries like, “Will I fit in, what if I get lost in my new school and who will my teacher be?” are things you can work out far in advance. My son, Jon, and I went to an orientation before he started middle school, and the kids were handed combination locks. Jon had never used one and refused my help as he struggled to make the lock work. After many attempts, he looked up and asked, “Mom, is it OK if I swear?” He had the process nailed before we left that night, but remember that things we take in stride might be stressful to a child.
HealthyChildren.org makes an excellent point that it’s smart to communicate with the school ahead of time if you have concerns about how your child might fare in the first days. I can vouch for this. There’s no need to wait until the first parent-teacher conference if issues such as extreme shyness might be derailing a good school experience from the get-go. Most schools will welcome your early input since it’s easier for staff to deal with issues they’re already aware of. Try emailing your child’s new teacher to establish a working relationship that is beneficial to the teacher, you and, ultimately, your child.
A few thoughts if you have teens: Consider telling them that a new school year can be a fresh start and an opportunity to present others with their best selves. It is a chance to make new first impressions and set the tone for how they expect to be treated. There’s a lot to digest in all that and a lot that can throw a child if sprung at the last minute, so talk about these things early. Don’t make them part of a day-one pep talk just before your teen boards the bus.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is a tremendous online source of back-to-school help on everything from backpacks to what to do if your child is a bully. Just search “back-to-school tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.”
Here’s to an awesome school year for all kids everywhere – and their parents.