Let’s face it – the start of a new school year can be stressful for both parents and students alike. A new grade, increased workload, higher expectations and the anxiety of navigating social circles can all add to your child’s stress. And for us parents, it’s the return to hectic routines, keeping track of schedules and keeping on top of full days. So, take a few minutes to check out these tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years (through a lot of trial and error).
Here’s to a stress-free school season!
- Get organized in the evenings. Mornings are often hectic because you try to do so many things in a small amount of time. To reduce stress, get organized and complete tasks in the evenings. For example, pick out work and school clothes for the week, and have kids pack their backpack and lunches the night before. For morning activities, create a schedule to order tasks that should be done like getting dressed, making the bed, eating breakfast, combing hair, brushing teeth and grabbing school items before heading out the door. Also, encourage your family to use agendas (or a shared online calendar) to jot down activities, assignments, tests and appointments for the week or month.
- Create a homework space. Give your kids a quiet, well-lit and comfortable workspace to do homework, with preferably a desk of their own. Make sure you have some extra supplies at home, so they don’t have to tote all of their supplies back and forth. Discourage the use of electronic devices, music and TVs while doing homework — you want kids to stay focused! Encourage them to take breaks to avoid fatigue.
- Set your kids up for success:
- Set high expectations for your child, but not unrealistic ones that put too much pressure on them that could lead to stress.
- Regularly talk to your child about school and their progress, successes and areas for improvement. A report card shouldn’t contain any surprises!
- Help your child develop good work habits and a positive attitude about learning.
- Monitor your child’s work but don’t hover and unreasonably interfere with their independence.
- Advise your child to ask questions in class. Also, broaden their learning with real-life situations like watching the news and discussing world events.
- Encourage your children to read for pleasure every day. Regular reading is one of the keys to a child’s success in school as it builds their comprehension in all subjects.
- If your child is struggling with a particular subject, speak with their teacher(s) to implement a plan to help. Decide if your child can benefit from extra assistance with the teacher or a tutor.
- Create a central zone. Create a spot or use a container where all of your go-to morning items can easily be found like keys, lunch boxes, permission slips, backpacks, etc.
- Prepare meals in advance. Use a weekend or evening to prepare meals and freeze them so they just have to be placed in the oven when you get home. Cut up healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables to store in zipper bags or containers.
- Wake up earlier. To make mornings easier for parents, try waking up a bit earlier — say about a half hour – to get ready for the day and enjoy a few minutes relaxing. Also, plan to arrive at work or drop the kids off at least 15 minutes early, so you have a cushion in case anything derails your routine.
- Schedule activities and fun! Children also need time for fun. And they need time to participate in extracurricular activities, downtime to reflect, and time for family. But, refrain from over-scheduling which can cause burnout.
- Be engaged and provide encouragement.
- Keep the lines of communication open and ask your child questions about their day, who they socialized with, what went really well, if anything worrisome happened, and if any tests are coming up. This will show your child that you’re there for support.
- Remember, your child is not you. They may approach things differently, and they have to learn how best to manage tasks on their own. Try not to put all your focus on their grades. Instead, encourage your child to do their best, take responsibility, and understand the concepts taught in class. Showing you have confidence in them will help them believe in themselves.
- Wind down before bed. Everyone needs a well-deserved wind-down routine before bed. It takes about a full hour to go from 100 per cent awake to asleep, so plan for a full hour of calm with no screens or other major activities.
I hope these ideas help you and your family stay stress-free throughout the school year – with organized routines, positive learning experiences, a supportive environment (both at school and at home), and great results!
Do you have any stress-free tips you and your family swear by? Let us know in the comments below.