The beginning of the year is filled with excitement and the expectation that things will “be different” from the last. New notebooks, teachers, and schedules make the beginning of the year seem like a bright beginning, and it can be. However, without reinforcement of new behaviors, schedules, and some simple suggestions, the backslide to old and often ineffective tendencies may creep up. Help your kiddo keep his or her school goals a reality with these tips and resources for a successful school year.
1. Make Downtime a Priority
After a full day of school, kids’ brains need a break. They are overstimulated, constantly “on” and frequently distracted. Jumping into homework or a stimulating activity conditions their brain to stay wired. We need to build in time to help them transition and settle down. Many families use the time before bed to chill out, but often this can backfire. If we leave too many emotions and feelings to the end of the day, it can be too much for many kids to handle, leading to worries and anxious thoughts.
Downtime implemented throughout the day can help increase communication and awareness of feelings. Asking questions as soon as they step off the bus or open the door often leads to frustration and aggression, children feel pressured and pretty frazzled. A rule of thumb is to let them have a snack, chill out and wait 20-30 minutes.
This is “re-set time” and can include:
• Drawing or art
• Reading a book of their choice
• Imaginary play
• Shower or bath
• A TV show or game that is not stimulating (avoid fast screen cuts or violence, consider something that is interactive)
• Create a calming caddy or tool kit for distress tolerance
2. Communicate Goals & Reinforce Positive Behaviors
The way you talk about academic success and school year goals is more important than you think. Validation and child-friendly language can increase effectiveness and confidence in your student. Refer to this post to learn how to talk so that they will listen and participate in the conversation. Reinforce positive behaviors and focus on your child’s intention instead of the outcome. If your kiddo tried clean up their room and got part of it completed, give them credit, and ask how you can help them problem solve to finish up. “What can I help you with?” instead of “You still have so much to do.”
3. Organize Effectively
Help your child prepare for tomorrow today, not tonight. Before dinner or between homework and hitting the sheets, go over their upcoming and weekly assignments, activities, and events. Having a visual cue for younger and older kids, such as a calender on the wall will help them to gain confidence on what is to come, as well as help to create organizational skills for life. Dr. Lynne Kenney, The Family Coach and one of our favorite parenting experts, has created clear and creative free downloads to help you and your children with organization.
4. Snack Smart
Snacks can help to save your kids mood and attention span during the long days back in school. Having healthy snacks available is imperative for managing mood and improving focus. Include a protein, carbohydrate, and healthy fat into each bite. It’s much easier than the drive-through, and healthier too. Click here to read more about snacks that boost brain power.
5. Sleep Tight
For a seamless transition back to school students of all ages need a consistent sleep schedule (adults do too). Studies show that back to school success correlates with a proper sleep cycle. Enough sleep means higher test scores, better behavior and more focus. How do you get your little learner back to bright and early mornings? This Back-to-Bedtime Post has you covered.
We wish all of you the best back-to-school year yet! Please share your tips and suggestions below.
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.
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