Top tips for helping reduce the stress of heading back to school.
Ollwyn Moran, founder of Irish baby products brand COGNIKIDS® is a leading Neurological Development Therapist and mum of two. Here she gives some advice to make back-to-school time as stress free as possible:
“Starting school is an emotional time for parents and kids. But it is a milestone that should be celebrated and looked forward to positively,” Ollwyn says.
“The morning time is what sets your child up for the day. If there is anxiety and chaos in the house before they go out the door to school it will stay with them. It is better to send them out calm and feeling secure.”
1) Prepare the uniform or school clothes the night before. If they don’t wear a uniform give them a choice of two outfit options. This can prevent a lot of unnecessary stress in the morning and will also help your little one to get in to a great routine and help with their own preparations as they get older and become independent.
2) A low-sugar breakfast is a great start to the day and will ensure that your child does not have a sugar crash mid-morning which can impact concentration, cognitive abilities and behaviour. Something like scrambled eggs and brown bread or porridge with berries are nutrient rich breakfasts that will not induce a sugar crash!
3) Where possible, arrive to school with plenty of time for line up and some play time. This is a critical part of the day and helps children to develop social skills, language & oral development and imaginative skills.
4) If you child is feeling nervous about starting school, it helps to talk it through a day or two before hand. Normalise their feelings of worry and acknowledge them. Let them know it’s perfectly normal and natural.
5) When you drop them off, explain who will be collecting them and where so they understand. Don’t hang around once you drop them off, it doesn’t make things any easier on you, the child, the teacher or the other kids in the classroom. Teachers will have lots of ways to settle the class and get them involved in fun activities very quickly.
6) Label everything - from coats to cups and books and pencils etc. This reduces a lot of anxiety for children when trying to identify their belongings.
7) After school, children will be tired. This can often lead to meltdowns especially if they are ‘hangry’! Rehydrate and re-fuel them and allow for a nap. Don’t forget to engage them in conversation about the other kids in the class, activities they did and which ones were their favourites etc. But don’t push too hard if they are not ready to talk when you want to.
8) Parents should try to put their phones and screens away once they are home with their child and to ensure children are getting limited screen time each day. Without distractions parents will be able to tune in to their child better and will note a change in behaviour much more quickly.
9) When homework comes in to play it is important to establish a good routine of when it will be done and where (generally somewhere without too much distractions so they can focus).
10) Bed time is an important step in the routine. Children who consistently go to bed early are more focused in school, their cognitive abilities are better, they have a lower future risk of obesity, are less vulnerable to future illness, they are primed for better growth and academic achievement and have a healthier emotional wellbeing. For 4-5 year olds, 10-13 hours’ sleep is recommended.
For more information visit www.cognikids.com