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Positive Parenting: 6 Tips for a Great Start Back to School, by Angela Johnson

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Back to school is an exciting time.

However, without the proper preparation, it can also become stressful for both you and your children. Here are six tips from your local Great Start Collaborative on how you can give you and your children a great start to the school year!

1. Keep a Regular Sleep Routine

Routines help children feel comfortable. A week or so before school begins, start to readjust bedtime schedules to be more in line with the school day schedule. Establishing a good school year bedtime routine where your children go to bed at the same time every night will help them feel rested, relaxed, and ready to learn!

The time allotted to provide your child with a relaxing bedtime routine will vary some, but on average, you want to work in thirty minutes to an hour. After this, there should be no more electronics. According to the National Sleep Foundation, spending time on electronics within an hour of going to bed negatively affects quality of sleep.

One great option to include as part of your child’s bedtime routine is quality reading time. This can be either you reading a story to them, and/or your child silently reading to him or herself. Another nice thing to do at bedtime is spend a few minutes tucking your child in and actively listening to them. Your child’s bedtime routine might also include picking out his or her outfit for the next day, and/or organizing his or her backpack, and will certainly include basics like putting pajamas on and brushing teeth.

Sleep is fundamentally important to your child’s success in school and in life, so take the time to adjust your child’s sleep schedule to the school year and you will prevent a lot of unnecessary stress.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine guidelines, which are approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, are as follows:

Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
Ages 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
Ages 13-18 years: 8-10 hours

2. Provide Healthy & Easy Food Options

In addition to making sure our children are getting plenty of rest, it’s important they fuel up with good food for their busy day of learning. I think most of us would agree that the best meals in a busy family household are the ones that are both healthy and easy! To make sure this happens, all you need is a little meal prep and weekly planning. A little something that has worked well for me over the years (my girls are 14 and 19 now). . . keep a bowl with fresh, easy-to-grab fruit out on the kitchen table. When it’s easy like that, they really do go for it!

3. Go School Shopping

Obtain a class list of required supplies for your child, and plan a special trip to pick everything out. The right tools are important for your child’s success at school. While you’re at it, make sure he or she has few new clothing items for back to school too. Having enough socks, shirts, and a good pair of shoes, etc., will alleviate a lot of laundry stress for you, and also help your child feel confident and organized for their first day of school.

4. Visit School & Talk to the New Teacher

This one is pretty straightforward and simple, but important nonetheless. Usually some type of open house is held so you can go check the school out and meet the new teacher before school year starts. Try to make this happen for your child, as it will help them to feel more connected and ready for the new school year.

5. Know your Transportation Plan

Again, this might seem like a minor detail, but it is important for you and your child to understand what transportation to and from school will be like. It’s a basic thing, but important to work out and discuss with your child so they feel comfortable with how they will be getting to and from school.

6. Slow Down & Make Time for Balanced Living

We live in a fast-paced society, so it takes a conscious effort to slow down and not fall victim to the stress associated with such a speedy tempo. It is important to both your health as a parent and your child’s as well to not overschedule the family.

Take care of yourself as the parent. Listen to what you need to maintain peace and balance, and give yourself some time for that each day.

Listen to your children. Give them your full, undivided, quality attention each day. Give them free-play. Set limits on technology. Eat a meal together. Play a game together. Just be together.

Powerful times to listen and connect with your children are right after school, during dinnertime and at bedtime.

Best wishes to you and your family in the 2019/2020 school year!

*The Marquette-Alger GSC welcomes any professionals and/or parents/caregivers that touch the lives of children in our community, from pregnancy to eight years old. Our next meeting will be Monday, September 16 at MARESA from 11:30-1:30. (Lunch is provided). Please RSVP with Angela @ 906-869-0566 or ajohnson@maresa.org.

Angela Johnson, Great Start Collaborative (GSC) Director for Marquette and Alger Counties, works at Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency (MARESA). The Great Start Collaborative (https://www.maresa.org/early-on/marquette-alger-great-start-collaborative/) works in communities throughout the state to ensure Michigan is making progress towards four priority early childhood outcomes.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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