Believe it or not, it is almost time for parents to start thinking about back-to-school shopping yet again. Maybe you have received a detailed checklist from your child’s school, listing specific pencils, pens, ruled paper and calculators that they will need to be successful in the upcoming school year.
While all of these items are important and necessary to get for your child, there may be some items not mentioned you should add to your list that may be critical in helping your child get the most out of the upcoming school year. Here are five important, but easily overlooked items to add to your list:
Numerous studies support the importance of healthy, balanced meals to fuel learning and give children the energy they need to be successful throughout the day. While school lunch programs may vary in what they offer, parents can control the breakfast you provide for child.
While all meals are important, breakfast is thought to be the most important meal of the day and can give your child the boost they need to optimize their learning potential. So make sure your child has a healthy mixture of protein, good fats and fresh produce to start the day.
Even if you are rushed in the morning, having items on hand like granola, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs and berries or a piece of fruit, for example, can make it easier to grab when you are in a hurry.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, “poor and inadequate sleep (in children) can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems, such as ADHD, and cognitive problems that impact their ability to learn in school.” For school-aged children, it is suggested they get nine to 11 hours of sleep. While you may think it impossible for your child to get that much sleep with the amount of homework assigned each day and extracurricular activities they are involved in, try to make it a priority to create a schedule that will allow a minimum of eight to nine hours of sleep a day. Maybe this means less TV time or even cutting out an extracurricular activity during the week. Do not worry if you feel you are limiting them; the results will be worth it!
Coming off of summer days can make it hard for your child to get into the swing of a busier school routine, earlier mornings and homework in the evening. You can help make this transition easier by gradually making your child’s bedtime a little earlier each day starting a week or two before school starts. Slowly adapt your family schedule so that earlier bedtimes and earlier mornings will not come as such a shock to your child once school starts.
Also make sure that you make time for them to be outside each day. Back to school can mean a lot of sitting indoors, so it is equally important that your child gets enough time to spend outside in nature.
Less TV time
Yes, it was fun watching movies and cartoons all summer long, but now that schedules are going to be busier, limiting TV time can help your child have more time for homework, extracurricular activities and more sleep as suggested above. Television time can be a good reward once other responsibilities and homework are complete.
Limit extracurricular activities
While extracurricular activities are great for children, do not feel guilty limiting the amount of events your child is involved in. While some studies show it is good to keep children busy with after-school activities, Michael Thompson, clinical psychologist and author of “The Pressured Child” points out that it is OK to limit these activities if you find they are interfering with other important aspects of your child’s life such as sleep, family time and homework.
While sports, music lessons, art or dance can all enrich your child’s development and enjoyment of life, too many activities can leave both you and your child feeling stressed, tired and spread too thin with responsibilities. Thompson encourages parents to be sensitive to the fact that each child is different and may be able to handle or enjoy different amounts of after-school programs.
Observe your child and their routine and help them schedule and pick activities they are interested in and the amount they can handle that will still allow a healthy, balanced lifestyle that includes the necessary sleep, downtime and family one-on-one time that is just as important for their success.
Hale Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Esther Solomon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Info: www.haleopio.org.