Back to school is an exciting time for parents and kids, but it can also be met with stress. Kids may not be ready to say goodbye to their swimsuits and playdates, and parents may not be ready for nights of homework help and lunch-making. If you’re looking to make school less stressful for everyone while also developing your child’s relationship with school, we’re here for you. Here’s how to develop good school habits in your kids.
Sleep is vital for all of us, but especially for growing kids. When kids don’t get enough sleep, they can become moody and lose focus, according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio. “Sleep deprivation may cause your school-aged child to be moody, irritable, and cranky. In addition, he may have a difficult time regulating his mood, such as by getting frustrated or upset more easily,” the website states. In other words, even if you perfectly iron your kid’s uniform polo shirts (/shop/school-uniform/S-00c-ytp) and pack their backpacks with all of the essentials, they likely won’t have a good day at school if they aren’t getting the sleep they need. Nationwide Children’s Hospital notes that “school-aged children need between 10 and 11 hours of sleep per night”—make sure your kids are getting the sleep they need so they can be on their way to developing good school habits.
While you’re monitoring their sleep, also monitor their food intake! It’ll be hard to create good school habits for your kids if their bodies aren’t getting their baseline needs (like a nutritious breakfast). Be sure to pack their lunchboxes with the items they need for an energy-boosting lunch, too.
Whether they’re in elementary school, middle school, high school, or college, your kids will be faced with homework for years to come. They’ll need to become comfortable with doing their homework, asking questions about their homework, and taking pride in their work. Early on, help your kids realize that homework is a priority by making them complete their work before turning on the television or cozying up with fleece throws and their favorite book. You can even reward them after they finish their homework with a trip to the neighborhood playground or just by sharing words of encouragement that show how proud you are of them.
School can be a challenging thing for many students—according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, it can be a common thing for kids to experience “school refusal,” which is “the disorder of a child who refuses to go to school regularly or has problems staying in school.” Kids can be anxious about going to school for many reasons, the website notes, including “fear that something will happen to a parent after he is in school, fear that she won’t do well in school, or fear of another student.”
If your child is nervous about going to school or staying in school, don’t chalk it up to dramatics. Instead, listen to your child’s fears and make sure they know you’re there for them. You want to make sure your child knows they can talk to you about school from a young age, so they aren’t hiding bad grades or other school troubles from you in the years to come. You also want to make sure you’re aware of any problems going on in school—which will instantly reset any good school habits you worked so hard to create.
School (and, well, everything) is more enjoyable when kids have friends around them. Encourage your kids to make friends at school; if they have trouble, help them out! You can reach out to other parents in your neighborhood to set up playdates or sign your child up for a local sports team or dance class. Not only will childhood friendships help your child feel more excited about going to school (since they’ll get to see their friends), but the Public School Review reports that friendships can make children feel an “increased sense of belonging” and “can also have an impact on a child’s academic performance.” Sounds like a win-win, right?
This goes hand-in-hand with making friends while also creating a positive association beyond academics for your kids. Sign your child up for a sports team or club at their school. This way, even if they aren’t so excited about math class, they’ll have an after-school creative program to look forward to instead. In the end, you just want to make sure your child associates school with positive things. This way, they’ll be excited about going every day.
Creating good school habits for your kids is important. It’ll help them be excited about going to school every day, help them realize school’s importance, and set them up for years of success as school gets harder and harder. Remember: If they seem like they’re struggling in school, reach out to their teacher. You’re your child’s biggest advocate. Still, even with good school habits, some kids just need a little more help from their parents and teachers.