Back to School Tips from Potomac Pediatrics!

By: Dr. Joseph Mechak
Much to many kids dismay the first day of school is just around the corner.  For some children, this transition back to school can be challenging. We wanted to provide a few tips to help set your child up for a smooth transition into the school year!
Restart the bedtime routine… and do it now! 

  • Sleep is vitally important for your child’s success in school. Summer often means fewer alarm clocks, more lenient bedtimes, and less daily structure.  The transition from these lackadaisical summer rules to a more rigid school schedule can be tough for kids. It can take a few days (or weeks!) to get back into sync, so start the transition early.  Reinstate bedtime routines and wake-up calls now to reduce the shock on the first day of school. For a whole discussion of healthy sleep habits see our blog from May 2019!

Positive anticipation

  • Some children look forward to heading back to school… other children don’t.  Regardless of where your child falls on the excitement spectrum, remind them of the positive aspects of school leading up to the first day.  Remind them of their friends, their favorite classes from last year, a nice teacher, a fun field trip, recess, and anything else that can quell anxiety or get your child revved up for the new year.

Rehearse your morning routine and prepare the night before

  • Mornings can be chaotic. Chaos doesn’t bring out the best in anyone – kids and parents, alike.  Prepare as much as possible the night before to help start mornings on the right foot. Involve your child in packing their backpack, lunch, or picking out their outfit.  This will help promote independence and sense of responsibility… and may take some things off your plate later in the year!

The most important meal of the day

  • Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  A nutritious meal before school can improve energy, concentration, and overall school performance. Build time for breakfast into your morning routine and avoid settling for the easy, low-nutrient foods (ie. PopTarts) as you are rushing out the door.  

Communicate, communicate, communicate… with your child

  • Sometimes, ‘back-to-school dread’ or ‘hating school’ is actually your child’s way of expressing anxiety or bullying at school.  Talk with your child about things they are worried about or aspects of school they may be afraid of. Talking through these anxieties can be therapeutic for your child. You may also be able to provide tools to help them tackle specific challenges.
  • Be involved in your child’s school experience. Ask specific questions about their day to get the conversation started.  Then, listen and try not to pry (especially with teenagers).  Let them lead the conversation and tell you what is important to them.  Kids will often share more when asked less.

Communicate, communicate, communicate… with the school

  • Talk with your child’s teacher, the school nurse, or administration about concerns, learning disabilities, medical needs, or anything else that your child needs to have a healthy, happy, and successful school year.  If possible, do this before school starts so that everyone is on the same page to start the year.
  • Similarly, if any challenges present during the school year, talk with your child’s teacher early and often.  Work as a team to get your child what they need for success.

Homework habits

  • Establish a homework routine on Day 1. Find a quiet, comfortable (but not too comfortable), space for homework. The space should be free of electronics and other distractions – other than those needed for homework.  Develop an after school schedule that builds in a specific time for homework. This way homework time is never a surprise, and hopefully, never a fight. Routine is key!

Make sure they are up to date and have their forms

  • The start of school is a great chance to make sure your child is up to date on their yearly Well Child Check and vaccinations.  If you are unsure, give us a call and a member of our team will be happy to help.  
  • If you need school forms, PLEASE get them to us well before they are due.  This is a high volume time and it can take up to 7 business days to get them back to you. Please do not wait until the last minute. We also ask that you request school forms through our website. This helps streamline our process and keep us organized.  Please do not bring them with you to your child’s visit! 

When to talk to your doctor

  • Parents, teachers, school administrators, and sometimes your child’s doctor are all a part of your child’s academic team. Sometimes anxiety, ADHD, learning disabilities, vision or hearing problems, or other medical problems can impede your child’s success at school.  If you have any concerns of this nature – don’t delay in making an appointment with us!

All of us at Potomac Pediatrics wish you and your child a happy, healthy, and successful school year!