Getting in the back-to-school routine
Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 06:00 am
With Rocky View Schools students already heading back to school, parents are tasked with the ritual of getting kids back in the routine of early mornings, homework and extra curricular activities.
Ann Marie Urdal, a parent coach with North Rocky View Community Links, said preparedness is key to a successful school year start.
Following a few simple tips from READY (routine, eating, activity, downtime and you) for School, she said parents could safely navigate the somewhat hectic transition and ensure everyone is prepared.
“The more kids are prepared, the more in control they feel,” she said. “It eliminates all the confusion for them.
“They’re in control because they’re ready.”
Getting back into a morning and evening routine a week before school starts is ideal, but parents who didn’t get an early jump on the routine can still get kids into it now.
“(Kids) need to be well rested,” Urdal said. “It takes a good week to build those routines back into your system.”
Setting bedtime 15 minutes early each night until the desired bedtime is reached is a good way to get kids into a routine.
Urdal said putting aside enough time each morning for a healthy, relaxed breakfast and having balanced lunches the child helped plan are also necessary for school success.
The start of the year also marks a time when everyone is signing up for activities, and Urdal recommends parents limit those extra curricular activities and be aware of scheduling conflicts.
“Even though they’re fun, they can cause stress for parents and children if you’re involved in too many,” she said.
She said deciding what the downtime looks like – whether it’s playing in the yard or reading a book – is something that can be discussed with the child to find what fits best.
She added having parents get involved with school is crucial to a child’s success.
Getting to know the teacher and exchanging contact information creates a connection that benefits parents, teachers and students.
“Little problems get solved quickly,” she said. “If there is a big problem, the relationship is there to be respectful and understanding on everyone’s behalf.”
Going back to school can also be a nerve-racking experience for some kids and Rocky View Schools lead psychologist Chris Pawluk said there are a few tips parents can follow to support children.
First, he said, it is important to spot the stressors, whether it’s difficulty sleeping, headaches, stomach aches, irritability or a frequent bad mood.
“That’s what stress looks like in young kids,” Pawluk said. “We want to be able to spot that.”
Often, children do not directly express their stress, so he said it’s important to listen carefully to what they actually are saying.
Some of the worry surrounding school may be excitement, Pawluk said, but when a child is having a strong emotional reaction it is important for parents to reaffirm it’s common to be worried about the first days of school.
“One of the best things you can do is normalize that and say, ‘Everyone has that feeling,’” he said.
- with files from Joel Dryden