Give kids the best start to the school year

DOVER — When summer winds down, the thought of children returning to school can be stressful on the entire family. Getting back into a routine can have its challenges. Pediatrician Parul Singh, M.D., offers the following tips to help your children get the best possible start to the school year.

1. Stick to a routine. Start incorporating school-year eating habits into your schedule. This includes making breakfast in the morning and lunch. Begin transitioning to your school-year bedtime. “Kids do well when you stick to a regimen. It provides them some security,” Dr. Singh said. “Therefore, whatever routine you do during the school year, you should try doing it in advance.”

2. Don’t allow electronics at bedtime. This includes iPads, Kindles, video games, and cell phones as they are disruptive when it comes time to actually falling asleep.

3. Make sure they have all of their school supplies to help avoid anxiety. It’s also important to have a routine with homework. “Make sure they have a quiet place to do their homework so they can concentrate and have someone there to help them if they have questions. Students tend to do better when they have a parent at home who can help,” she said.

4. Set reasonable expectations. While it’s smart to provide expectations for children, parents should be realistic so you’re not creating unnecessary stress. Also, encourage learning in areas your children actually have an interest in. “Let them explore classes, hobbies and extracurricular activities that interest them rather than pushing your interests. If you’re a doctor, but your children have interests in art and music, let them explore those,” Dr. Singh says.

5. Encourage reading. Buy storybooks or go to the library. Reading at bedtime or providing them books to read on their own encourages learning.

6. Be a role model. Children tend to follow in their parent’s footsteps so being a good role model can help set them on the right path with school.

With new schools, classes, teachers, and classmates, a new school year can be a trigger for stress in children. This is why following such steps can help ease a student’s anxiety and give them the best chance at having a good start to their school year.

“You always want to put your best foot forward. Preparing during the summer and continuing these routines as the school year starts is always helpful and hopefully leads to better outcomes,” Dr. Singh said.

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