You have just finished a great summer break and now it is time to hit the books again for another school year. Back to school is filled with mixed emotions for many children, teens and parents. Getting school supplies, adjusting to new schedules and teachers, changes in bus schedules and seat assignments, and social adaptations with new friends and classes can be overwhelming. Some brains handle this stress better than others. Here are a few tips to help your brain get back to school ready.
Before school –Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Protein is an important part of breakfast that if often overlooked. Our brains need nutrients that protein provides to help maintain a stable blood sugar and help keep us focused and alert for memory and learning to occur. A hungry brain will not function well in a classroom or to do homework after school.
After school -Homework and extra-curricular activities often dominate after school hours. Healthy snacks, hydration and a brain break is in order. Your brain uses 20% of your body’s total energy and it has worked hard all day. Use this time for a short rest and light refuel heading into dinner time. I recommend setting a designated start and end time for homework.
Sleep -A consistent routine at bedtime is the best way to settle excited, tired and anxious brains. Think sensory wind down when it comes to bed time, you might try dim lighting, essential oils such as lavender to soothe anxiety symptoms, light protein snack and even a warm bath can help relax the body for bed. Exercise, technology and homework will work against settling the brain for sleep, as these activate and stimulate the brain.
Organization -Our brains like organization and although some of us struggle in this area, a well-organized work space for homework can make a huge difference. Think about purchasing a few extra supplies for use at home and having them in an area accessible for your child. Late night trips to CVS for colored pencils are stressful and no fun for anyone.
Social -Making friends is not as easy for some children as it is for others. Changing schools, teachers and classes can bring on overwhelming stress to children who are just looking to fit in and not sit alone at lunch. Often parents worry about these social issues and create unintended stress by asking them questions regarding friends and about social interactions at school. Listening and being empathetic to their situation can be as beneficial and prove more effective, as trying to suggest new ways for them to engage, make friends and handle difficult situations. Taking on the role of a coach and empowering them to think of solutions to these concerns will help develop relational and problem solving skills, encourage autonomy and improve your relationship with them. A great way to get them talking is to first listen.
Every brain is different and how it responds to its environment is also different. What seems stressful for a child, may not seem stressful for a parent. Consistent scheduling, adding in flexibility and planning ahead can take the transition back to school less stressful for everyone. If you are fighting daily battles, contact us for more information to see if we might be the right fit to help your child’s brain perform stress free every day.