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5 Ways To Help Calm Back-to-School Jitters

There are three dreadful end-of-summer words that have countless kids across Canada cringing: Back. To. School. The days are getting shorter, the mercury is dipping, and like it or not, stores are now filled to the brim with fall wear, backpacks and pencils.

Imagine what it’s like to jump in with both feet, returning to work after 10 weeks of holidays; it can be a pretty significant adjustment. So let’s cut our kids some slack and help them ease back into their school routines by following these five simple steps!

  1. Be Organized

I’ll admit, I’m not programmed to be uber-organized. It’s something I’ve learned and have seen the value in after having my two children. Organization in any household is key, and it’ll help erase a ton of unnecessary stress.

Label everything, including clothing, backpacks and water bottles. This not only personalizes your child’s belongings, it’ll also prevent you from having to replace a missing, nameless pair of new shoes the first week of school. You can order personalized labels online (like Mabel’s Labels) that won’t wear or peel easily.

Make lists to prepare for the first day back and to ensure you don’t forget anything, and the bonus is you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment after ticking items off your list. Why not also lay out all that’s needed for the first day of school, from a filled backpack to your child’s clothing. It’s something my mother used to do each night and when every minute counts in the morning; it can be a real time saver.

  1. Get back into a routine (before the first day)

Your child likely needs a LOT more sleep than you might think. Guidelines published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine suggest the following:

Children 3-5 years: 10-13 hours of sleep (including naps)

Children 6-12 years: 9-12 hours

Teens aged 13-18: 8-10 hours

Sleep is connected to behaviour, attention span and memory, along with changes in physical and mental health. To help ease your child into a healthy school-time sleep schedule, experts recommend slowly introducing earlier bedtime and wake-up times about two weeks before school begins. Limiting screen time before bed will also allow them to drift off into dreamland more easily.

  1. Let the kids help

Give your children the chance to make decisions and get involved in school prep. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Packing healthy lunches and picking out back-to-school outfits will get them more excited for their first day.

  1. Talk to them about school anxiety

Every child is unique, which means each student may have a slightly different outlook on heading back to school or for some, heading to school for the first time. To my surprise, my child didn’t have an entirely smooth transition to Junior Kindergarten, so it’s best to be armed with ways to cope with school anxiety. Depending on your child’s age, some may be concerned they may not make friends, may not like their teacher or may not find anyone to sit with at lunch. Anxious feelings are normal, whether it’s first-time school goers or high school seniors. Encourage your children to share their feelings and fears and in turn, focus on the positives, like asking them what they might be most excited about instead.

  1. Be on Time

It’s a simplistic concept, but being punctual sets the tone for good academic performance and future habits for when your little Einstein enters the workforce. Being on time also helps your children develop positive habits, instead of teaching them that tardiness will always be acceptable. Make a conscious decision not to hit the snooze button, or set your alarm
15 minutes earlier. Whichever works for you, it’s important to give yourself a few extra minutes to avoid that early morning scramble, which will likely leave you gasping for air.

So take a deep breath and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. After all, human beings thrive on routine.