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Tween picking out her first day of school outfit

Preparing for School (and the Stress of School)

By Stephanie Osler, LCSW

As the summer winds down, and the new school year approaches, here are some tips to lessen the stress and get prepared:

Two to three weeks prior to the start of school -

  1. Return to a consistent bedtime for your child that they will continue throughout the school year. If the kids have been staying up late and sleeping in, parents should ease bedtime back 15 minutes each night and wake children 15 minutes earlier each morning – even on weekends – until a proper sleep schedule is reached. (The National Sleep Foundation recommends 9 to 11 hours of sleep for children 5 to 12 years old and 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep for teens.)
  2. Start a bedtime routine a half hour prior to bedtime to include things like brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, reading or other quiet activity, but no screen time.
  3. Turn off all electronic devices including phones, tablets, TVs, computers (anything with a screen) one hour prior to bedtime. Charging of devices should take place outside of a child’s bedroom.
  4. Set a school wake up time and work toward waking up at that time every day.
  5. Get a planner that your child can bring with them to school. Have your child write down any important appointments, activities, or events. Work with your child to get organized and teach them how to break big assignments down into smaller tasks so they are less overwhelming.
  6. Get a family calendar and hang it where all family members can see it (refrigerators are perfect for this). Write down any events, activities, or changes in the daily schedule to be sure all family members are on the same page.
  7. Create a before- and after-school schedule with expectations for homework time, free time, dinnertime, and bedtime. Free time is EXTREMELY important for children of all ages. Scheduling free time right after school may work well for your family, or it may be scheduled later in the day. Try both and see what works best.
  8. Have a conversation with your child or teen about your expectations for the school year to lessen any confusion. While every parent wants their children to succeed, it’s important to define what success means to you. Does it mean getting all A’s or just expecting your child to do their best? To what lengths do you expect your child to go to in order to succeed?

Once School Starts -

  1. Make mornings less stressful by creating a checklist of activities that should to be done each evening. Keep this list in a prominent place where everyone in the family can see it.
  2. Eliminate caffeine and sugary drinks and snacks after school.
  3. Have backpacks packed and ready with all books and assignments inside. Leave backpacks by the door, ready to pick up on the way out.
  4. Choose clothes the night before and have them laid out so there’s no searching for matching socks in the morning!
  5. If showers are to be taken at night, make sure your child is showered and ready for bed before their scheduled bedtime.
  6. Pack lunches the night before.

Taking steps to ensure your child is as prepared as possible, physically and mentally, for school each day will help make the transition easier for the whole family.

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About Stephanie Osler, LCSW

About Stephanie  Osler, LCSW Osler has cared for children and their families in various clinical settings for over 20 years. She has been at CHKD since 2003, first as a licensed clinical social worker in the emergency department and then as program manager of the social work department. Having the experience of providing direct services to children and their families over the past two decades, Osler has a solid understanding of current systems of care and the need for additional services to focus on treating the whole child.