Kids are preparing to return to school this fall, signaling it’s almost time to kick off the new school year. The weeks leading up to a student’s return to class can shape the rest of their year, making it worthwhile to have a game plan in place. So, Katie Malear, a Mercy Health nurse practitioner who manages several school clinics in partnership with Lorain City Schools, is offering some advice on how to make back to school a breeze.
To get your kids ready for an earlier wakeup time, start going to bed earlier now. That gives your child time to adjust, and then keeping a consistent bedtime and waking up earlier will help their internal alarm clocks stay on track. Not to mention, starting a more regular sleep schedule a week or two before the first day ensures kids are getting the proper amount of sleep, helping them in and out of the classroom.
“Since we are constantly feeding our brain information and sometimes overstimulating ourselves with technology, limiting screen time before bed is another way to promote healthy sleep and recovery. Shutting devices down 30 minutes before bed or even setting phones in another room for the night can help your kids be more alert the following day and ready to learn,” says Malear.
Practicing listening skills ahead of the school year can also benefit children of all ages to prepare for the instructions given by teachers during the school day. One great way to practice is to have your child complete a variety of chores around the house each day. Not only does this allow them to practice following instructions, but it can also boost a child’s sense of responsibility, independence, and pride at home and in the classroom. Having your children plan meals or make a schedule for the day can also help encourage overall development while using goal-directed behaviors used by teachers for all ages.
For getting ready to expand academics during the year, incorporating small academic habits, such as reading a little each day, can help strengthen skills used in school and retention of previous lessons learned years prior. Additionally, it’s important to remember the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact how children learn, even though much of life feels like it’s returning to normal. Making sure your child feels supported and motivated to start off can be helpful in promoting success all year long.
“Learning requires a healthy mind. That’s why supporting your child’s mental health is important as you prepare to send them back to school. If your child struggles with anxiety or other mental health challenges, creating a sense of belonging and building strong, positive relationships among students, teachers and other parents can be beneficial in helping them cope with their feelings. Connection is essential to boosting a child’s self-esteem and sense of trust in others and themselves.”
Having strategies in place at home and at school to support safe, in-person learning for kids can ease their transition back to school this fall as well.
“At home, this could include reinforcing and practicing healthy hygiene habits, such as proper hand washing techniques, before kids return to school,” explains Malear.
Back to school brings hundreds of new experiences, including new routines, friends, teachers, and it’s normal for children and parents to be uneasy about returning to school. Whether your child is heading to school for the first time or ready to graduate, make sure they get a head start to be confident this school year.
A quick check in with your primary care provider is also never a bad idea, to ensure your child is healthy and up to date on all their vaccines before the start of a new school year. Just head to mercy.com to find a provider near you.
Mercy Health – Lorain is part of Bon Secours Mercy Health, one of the 20 largest health systems in the United States and the fifth-largest Catholic health system in the country. The ministry’s quality, compassionate care is provided by more than 60,000 associates serving communities in Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia, as well as throughout Ireland. Mercy Health – Lorain is a full-service, not-for-profit, integrated health care system, which has been providing quality health care to Lorain County and surrounding communities for more than 125 years. The health system provides inpatient, outpatient and ancillary services through its two hospitals, Mercy Health – Lorain Hospital and Mercy Health – Allen Hospital in Oberlin; Mercy Health Physicians; and specialized facilities, including the Mercy Health – Cancer Center, Mercy Health – Outpatient Rehabilitation and Therapy, and Mercy Health – New Life Hospice. The mission of Mercy Health – Lorain is to extend the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of our communities and bring good help to those in need, especially people who are poor, dying and underserved. For more information, visit Mercy Health online at www.mercy.com.