The December holidays are over and children all over South Africa had to return to school this week. Parents are turning their attention to refocusing children on the demands of the new school year.
Getting started on the right foot can have a positive influence on your child’s academic performance and social interactions. With another disruptive year ahead of us, shifting between lockdown phases, and periods of online school, the following tips can assist in making the year easier and more successful back-to-school experience:
1. Stick to a Routine
Children do best when they stick to a schedule. Going to bed, waking up and eating at roughly the same times each day helps to reduce stress for everyone, parents and children alike. A basic routine lays out specific steps that must be taken in the same order each day. For example, waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, and packing a back-pack. Make a list on your child’s wall for them to follow each day.
2. Make Homework a Priority
Good homework habits formed early on will stand them in good stead for the whole school year. Children need a dedicated, comfortable space, free from distractions, where they can do their homework. It’s best not to let them do homework in bed to keep them from nodding off in the middle of assignments, and to help them sleep better at night. For more help with homework, see “5 Helpful Tips To Make Homework A Success“.
3. Encourage a Good Sleep Routine
Lack of sleep in children is associated with lower academic achievement and difficulty with concentration and learning. Follow a consistent and calming bedtime routine that will help your child settle down and fall asleep easily. Make it a rule to turn off the TV and electronic devices well before bedtime. Teenagers need at least 8 – 10 hours of sleep a night, younger ones even more than that.
4. Reduce Screen Time
In addition to having a good sleep routine, it’s important to develop good screen habits. Keep TV and cellphone usage to two hours or less per day for school-aged children. If you find that your children are getting distracted, use parental controls to restrict certain apps and websites during homework and sleep time.
5. Make Healthy Meals
Children need energy to function optimally throughout the day, mentally and physically. It’s important to make sure they eat breakfast every morning and have a healthy lunch. These meals should consist mainly of fruits and vegetables, as well as sufficient dairy and grains for slow-release energy throughout the day.