Whether your child is going to school for the first time or taking the next step in their education, the start of a new school year can be exciting, but can also cause anxiety.
For a lot of families, there are many things to juggle as you get ready to transition from the summer months to the upcoming school year. Below are some tips to make sure your child is emotionally and physically ready to tackle the new school year.
Tips for your child’s mental well being:
Plan and practice your routine.
There can be a lot to keep track of when school starts, and practicing the daily routine can help your family make a smooth transition. For older children, a part of their routine could include setting aside time each day for homework so they don’t wait to finish it. If bedtime enforcement has become less strict over the summer, then consider starting that routine the week before school starts.
Help manage potential anxiety.
It’s normal for your child to have first day jitters. One of the ways you can help them overcome their anxiety is to visit their school and meet with the teachers. You can also create a simple goodbye ritual to help reassure your child.
Talk to them about goals for the year.
For younger children, you can prepare them for their first day of school by watching videos together and discussing what they can expect on their first day. For older children, talking through their goals is a great way to help them prepare mentally and look forward to the new school year.
For older children, discuss mental health.
School can often be overwhelming as children navigate new friendships and balance homework and other obligations. By encouraging your child to share their concerns, you can help validate their feelings and give them the support they need. Many kids and teens now benefit from teletherapy because it can offer easier access to mental health care, more privacy, and sometimes at lower costs.
Encourage fun activities outside of school.
Homework and school obligations are important, but giving your child an opportunity to do what they love will give them an emotional boost. You can also help them from overextending themselves by setting limits and giving them down time.
Plan quality time together.
Taking the time when everybody is back from school and work to spend time together is a great way to reconnect. You can engage in activities like taking a walk, playing a game, or just talking about your day.
Tips to help your child stay healthy:
Schedule your child’s annual physical.
The recommendation is for children to have an annual checkup to make sure they are progressing well and to keep an eye on any health concerns. The start of a school year is a great reminder to visit the doctor.
Make sure your child has all their immunizations.
The recommended immunizations for school-aged children helps protect them from diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and chickenpox. Before going back to school, having their immunizations up-to-date is important for their safety and the safety of others.
Consider a hearing and vision test.
Having hearing or vision difficulties can impact your child’s ability to focus and learn in school. An annual exam can help identify if your child has any issues to address before the start of school.
Organize their health records.
There is a lot of paperwork that is often required when you register your child. In addition to providing the school their records and history, other vital information includes emergency contact information and a consent to treat form in case your child needs medication. Many kids will often need a physical exam form in order to attend school or play certain sports.
Make sleep a priority.
Sometimes sleep routines and schedules can be disrupted by travel or other activities. Encouraging good sleep habits like going to bed at the same time every evening will help your child get the sleep they need to stay alert during school.
Have a plan if your child gets sick.
In case you are unable to immediately retrieve your child at school if they get sick, having a trusted family member, friend, babysitter or child care facility to help take your child can be a great support for your family. This also ensures that your child will get the care they need if they get sick.
About the author
Ian Tong, M.D., serves as Chief Medical Officer at Doctor On Demand and is also a Clinical Assistant Professor (affiliated) at Stanford University Medical School and has staff privileges at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Before Doctor On Demand, Ian held multiple medical leadership roles including former Stanford Internal Medicine Chief Resident, and Founder and Medical Director of THRIVE (The Health Resource Initiative for Veterans Everywhere). Ian earned a medical degree from The University of Chicago-Pritzker. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and completed both his residency and Chief residency at Stanford Hospital and Clinics.