Dr. Kristin Schaefer-Schiumo| Manhasset NY

It's Back To School Time... Again!

It's hard to believe that the summer is almost over. While some parents are thrilled that this is the case, and others are not, it is critical that all parents prepare their children for this important transition. With the summer stretched out before them, children became accustomed to staying up later, having more free time, and needing much less structure. The successful start of the new school year requires the opposite...consistent, healthy sleep habits, less free time, and more structure. There are several things that parents can do to help their children successfully transition into the new school year, and to build on that success the whole year through:

  1. Prepare children in advance for the start of school. Not knowing, in this case, would not be a good surprise! Mental preparation is key, be sure to tell your children in advance when school begins. Younger children may benefit from the use of a calendar, since their understanding of the passage of time is limited; circle the start date of school and cross off each day as it ends. This allows children to visually see how many days remain until the start of school.
  2. Purchase school supplies ahead of time so your child feels prepared for the start of school year.
  3. Whenever possible, show your children where their books, supplies (pencils, pens, erasers), backpacks and lunch boxes will be stored. Show them the space that will be used to complete homework. Discuss the rules or expectations for when and how their future homework will be done. By doing this you are creating clear expectations and establishing an after school structure and routine. This leads to decreased anxiety, irritability and inattention for most children, and improves the likelihood of success.
  4. Attend all school orientations; be sure to visit your children's school and meet their teachers, counselors, and nurse before the start of school. The more information you have, the better you can decrease the anxiety often associated with the unknown. This also gives you the opportunity to alert relevant school personnel to any medical, learning, or emotional needs your children may have.
  5. Establish and discuss the plans for any needed after school pick up, schedule of activities, and childcare. This will help alleviate stress both for you and your children.
  6. If possible, take your children to school on their first day. They will feel more secure and at ease just knowing you are there.

  7. Do everything you can to help your children start the new school year off positively!