Helping Your Kid Transition Back to School

As we help our sons and daughters get ready to return to school, let’s reflect on our own readiness to promote our kids’ best emotional development during the school year. Consider these dimensions:

Responsibility:

Resist the urge to become the homework police. Let them take responsibility for homework; let them approach it in their own way. Assignments might not get done as well as we’d like, but limiting ourselves to only a simple reminder allows children to build a sense of personal agency. Beyond that rests between them and their teachers (see June 2014).

Brain development:

Neuroscience has revealed the centrality of adequate sleep in consolidating the day’s learning — athletic and academic — especially the night before a performance or important test (see Sept/Oct 2014). And be alert to the risks of bright screens before bedtime (see June 2018).

Resilience:

It builds each time kids encounter and survive moments of ordinary childhood adversity. Rarely rescue by delivering their lunch or the schoolwork they left behind that morning; they’ll survive. And rarely fight their battles for them with classmates or teachers — just offer empathy and a strong vote of confidence that they will find ways to work things out (see November 2011).

Self-esteem I:

It develops in part when they do for themselves all that they’re capable of doing, rather than depending on us to find their sweater, solve their math problems or tidy up after their snack. Insist they get themselves out of bed on school mornings, dress and gather their belongings, and leave the house on time (or face the school’s consequences if they show up late).

Self-esteem II:

Feeling authentically worthy develops through being loved and validated for qualities of good character and simply for being a valued part of our lives, not for earning certain grades or demonstrating athletic prowess. Show delight just to greet the kids at the end of the school day, without racing to ask, How was the test? (See The New Self-Esteem).

Humility:

Help them understand that they aren’t the center of the universe, that their individual wants and needs (like homework, practice or a friend’s slumber party) cannot always trump the needs of others (like family dinner time, a sibling’s piano recital or grandma’s birthday party). Our kids do well to learn that they’re no better or no less than any of their classmates…and that respectful behavior toward their teachers must be unwavering.

Send Children Back to School with Nutrition Knowledge During Kids Eat Right Month

As children head back to school, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to celebrate Kids Eat Right Month™ in August by ensuring children are properly fueled to grow and succeed.

“The start of the new school year is the perfect time to reinforce kids’ healthy eating habits,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy spokesperson Malina Malkani. “It’s important that parents give their children the proper tools to make healthful eating choices, which will benefit them now and as they grow into adults.”

An initiative of the Academy Foundation’s Kids Eat Right program, Kids Eat Right Month is celebrated each August and emphasizes the importance of families knowing how to shop smart, cook healthy and eat right, featuring expert advice from registered dietitian nutritionists.

Malkani offers easy, practical tips for parents to ensure their children eat healthy and succeed in school:

Start the Day with Breakfast

“Start off the day with a nutritious, healthful breakfast. Research shows that children who eat breakfast tend to be more alert, learn better and are less likely to be overweight,” Malkani says.

“Make sure that your child’s breakfast includes lean protein and whole grains,” Malkani says. “And don’t skip the fruit. Pick out the produce children need for optimal health, such as bananas, strawberries or blueberries.”

Pack a Healthful Lunch 

“Keep your child’s energy levels up with a healthful lunch packed with the nutrients they need to help them concentrate throughout the afternoon,” Malkani says. “For example, pack hummus and vegetables in a whole grain pita pocket with some apple slices.”

“Children also need to follow proper food safety practices to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Remind them to refrigerate their lunch within two hours, and if they don’t have access to a refrigerator, pack lunch in an insulated cooler with plenty of icepacks,” Malkani says.

Model Healthy Habits at Home

Parents are the most important role models for their children. Make time to enjoy a family dinner together. Research shows that families who eat together have a stronger bond,” Malkani says.

“If parents don’t have time to prepare a homemade meal after school, cook during the weekend, refrigerate and reheat,” Malkani says.

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