From Homework to Hand Washing: Tips for School Year Success
Parents breathing a sigh of relief that their child survived another hectic summer of adventure and fun, should now take a deep breath and understand that the school year is not a time to relax when it comes to keeping your student safe.
First, there's making sure your child gets to school safely. Jeanie Sullivan, Child Care Specialist at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, Illinois, says whether they take the bus or walk to school, parents need to walk their child through the process - what they're going to see and hear. Explain the everyday experiences and the possible consequences if the proper steps are not followed.
And the lesson doesn't end when your student enters the building. After all, schools can be very germy places and flu season is just around the corner.
"Encouraging children to wash their hands frequently at school. Again, it's not on the teachers, you got to teach the children to think about it and do it themselves many times a day", says Sullivan. "So, when I teach hand washing were' talking about how many different times we should be washing our hands. After touching pets, after playing out on the playground, after going to the bathroom, after eating and, you know, before eating. So, trying to encourage them to kind of think about it and it becomes routine."
Sullivan also says the energy your child needs for school is very different than what got them through all that summer activity. Your plan to help them through begins with the first meal of the day.
"Breakfast is so important, especially something high in protein to keep them going," she said. "People don't realize how late lunch period is and how short of a lunch period they really have to eat something nutritious. So, making sure they have a few snacks with them. Keeping hydrated is another thing, especially if they play sports."
Homework can be a challenge not just for your student, but for you. Some kids do better with a break right after the school day, others are better off getting right to the overnight assignments. Sullivan suggests parents work with their children to determine the best routine and make sure there are few recess periods thrown in to rest your students short attention span - especially those in elementary school. First and foremost, says Sullivan, give them a lot of encouragement and don't forget some family time.
"I think a lot of American families are missing that around the dinner table time to talk," says Sullivan. "Talk about their day, think about their day, see if there's any problems at school, if maybe even bullying or just not understanding something at school. Kids are quick to say, 'Oh, nothing happened at school today,' and so it's quick to kind of dismiss that and keep going. But, I think dinner time and family time is very important to kind of see how they're really feeling."
Sullivan says if you suspect your child is not telling you about a problem at school, reach out to their teachers, friends, even a bus driver. Don't shrug it off and believe your child will tell you eventually.