During the summer break, children get to sleep in, watch movies, play outside with friends, and participate in all sorts of other activities. But well before that first school bell rings, parents need to take proactive measures to ensure that their elementary-aged children can hit the ground running and quickly adapt to the stress and routines of another school year.
Meeting new people, completing class presentations, taking tests, and doing homework will quickly put the joys of summer break on the back burner. But if students are not prepared to deal with these situations, they may encounter more stress than is warranted. What follows therefore is a look at how to help elementary students manage back to school stress and routines.
One of the best things parents can do for their children during the summer break is to encourage reading, whether that means visiting the library, going to the bookstore, or accessing online content. Encouraging year-round reading will make it easier for elementary students to adjust to the start of the academic session. During the summer break, parents would do well to carve out a section of each day and designate that time slot as reading time. Children are more likely to take the time to read if there is a specific time allotted to doing so. While it’s always a good idea for parents to read with their children, they should also encourage independent reading.
During the summer break, parents might cut their children some slack and allow them to stay up a bit later to watch their favorite programming or to do other fun things. But this laxness should stop at least a couple of weeks prior to the start of the school year so that children get used to going to bed at a set time, which will allow them to get enough sleep to function during the day.
Mealtime is Family Time
There are many benefits that come from associating family time with mealtime, so it would make sense for parents to prioritize having meals — breakfast and dinner — as a family. Of course, there are some situations where this might be logistically impossible such as when shift-work is involved, but an honest effort should be made to eat together as a family. Benefits kids derive from eating with their families include reduced cases of depression, stress, and eating disorders; reduced odds of smoking, drinking, and abusing drugs; and improved classroom performance.
Lessen Screen Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued guidelines to help parents determine how much screen time is safe for their children. As for children between the ages of two and four, the AAP suggests limiting screen time to a single hour per day — and that hour should consist of top-quality educational programming. Parents should also watch these programs with their children, help them grasp what they are viewing, and teach them how they can apply what they are learning to their lives. For children six years old and older, the AAP suggests that parents consistently place limits on how much time their kids spend accessing media while also ensuring that screen time does not restrict time needed for physical activity and sleep time.
The aforementioned recommendations can definitely help children to be ready for the upcoming elementary school year. From reading, to getting to bed on time, to eating as a family, to limiting screen time, there are various things parents can focus on to get their children ready for success inside and outside of the classroom.
Amy Williams is a freelance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. Follow her on Twitter at @AmyKWilliams1.