STILLWATER, Okla. – As another school year gets underway, kids across the state are returning to last year’s schools or attending new ones, moving to new grade levels or maybe even setting foot in school for the first time ever. Not surprisingly, both kids and parents are bound to be nervous. No worries, though. Not only are those jitters natural, there are plenty of positive ways to deal with them, said Laura Hubbs-Tait, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension parenting specialist.
“A new school year can be fun. It also can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be,” Hubbs-Tait said. “Parents should strive to keep a positive, upbeat attitude, which will go a long way toward setting the right tone for the year. Establishing a consistent routine will help, too.”
Although parents may be just as anxious as their children heading into a fresh school year, that nervousness can add to a child’s hesitance or reluctance. So, it is important for shaky parents to seek support from friends and family members – or even professional counseling – to calm any fears. Arranging a tour of the school building could be another option, which will give parents a mental picture of exactly where their children are spending their days.
Ultimately, the goal for parents is to be able to project the right attitude that will, in turn, help their children get the best start on the year, Hubbs-Tait said. Displaying the right attitude can include speaking positively about classes and teachers, encouraging children to try their best, and even suggesting they get involved with new extracurricular activities.
“As the school year progresses, the show of support and enthusiasm could extend to tacking artwork, papers and projects on the refrigerator or a special wall, and encouraging kids to talk about what they are learning,” she said.
When it comes to creating a consistent routine, it is a good idea to start the day with a healthy breakfast. Hubbs-Tait said studies have shown students who begin the day with a nutritious meal achieve higher grades, are better able to concentrate and make fewer mistakes than nonbreakfast eaters. Many schools offer a breakfast program, so families should check to see if they are eligible to participate.
After school, set aside a regular time for children to do homework or school projects, and get in the habit of discussing what is going on in the classroom and reviewing homework, graded tests and assignments, Hubbs-Tait said.
Devote a specific amount of time for watching TV or other activities, and establish a bedtime to ensure children get an adequate amount of sleep.
“By the time children reach school age, bedtime routines such as bathing, brushing teeth, reading a story, and, in many families, prayers, should be well established,” Hubbs-Tait said. “If it is not or if summer has interrupted good habits, the beginning of a new school year is a good time to start or resume that consistent routine.”
Also be sure to carve out a few minutes daily to talk about all of the events of the day – before, during, and after school – as well as upcoming activities.
“Dinner is often a good time to chat about what happened at school that day and what’s coming up,” Hubbs-Tait said. “It’s also an opportunity to encourage your children to talk about what they are learning and how they are enjoying their classes. Research supports the importance of positive family dinner time interactions.”
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.
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