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Helping your child have a productive school year

Helping your child have a productive school year

Returning to school can be a stressful and anxiety provoking time for children and adolescents.  Attitudes about returning to school range from excited to dread.  Some may feel thrilled about getting to see all their friends again while others are nervous about being picked on by bullies.  Some kids are excited to meet their new teacher while others worry that their labels from the previous year will follow them.  Some feel accomplished for being promoted to the next grade and a new school such as middle school or high school while others are fearful about their ability to complete a more difficult level of work.  Many children experience some degree of anxiety about returning to school.  Based on your child’s outlook and educational experience this stress can be minimal or significant. 

There are many things that parents can do to help their child or adolescent decrease school related anxiety.  First, ensure that your child has a nutritious breakfast thus stabilizing their morning blood sugar levels.  Research shows that brain healthy foods such as fruit, yogurt, eggs, oatmeal, or grain cereal boost children’s morning energy and increases the ability to concentrate and retain information.  Avoid sugary breakfast food.  A second, thing parents can do to decrease school related anxiety is encourage your child to talk to you about their day.  Listen empathetically as they describe positive and negative things that happened and let your child talk freely.  Do not try to solve their problem, help your child come up with a solution and above all do not tell your child that their worries are insignificant.  When necessary speak with your child’s teacher or principal about difficulties your child is experiencing.  A third thing parents can do to decrease school related anxiety is provide a structured time for your child to complete homework.  Be available during this time to assist your child, if needed, with their assignment.  It is recommended that children have a healthy snack before beginning homework in order to increase their ability to recall what they learned during class.  Structured homework time provides consistency and a routine which increases the completion of homework and decreases procrastination of projects.  If needed help your child with their assignment but do not complete the assignment for them.   Encourage your child to take a ten minute break from homework if they become frustrated with their assignment.  These simple steps can help your child have a happier and more productive school year.

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