It’s that time of year. Going back to school. For many children, this is a nervous time and nerves can happen at any age particularly when it is a new school, classroom or teacher. Educators know that this is a nervous time
and are available for questions and concerns about this new situation. It is helpful to review the website of your child’s school. All sort of information is available such as menus, backpack design and schedules.
Even before the first day, it is important to consider adjusting your child to a school sleep time. It is extremely important that children including teenagers get enough sleep. There should be a consistent bedtime EVERY night with a calming
pre-bedtime routine. ALL electronic devices should be turned off well before bedtime and should not be in the bedroom. The optimal amount of sleep for younger children is 10-12 hours and for teenagers 8-10 hours. Sometimes parents
need to start switching the sleep times an hour at a time. No more sleeping in.
Rules for transportation to and from school need to be well established and rehearsed. School buses should be boarded and exited in a safe place, when the bus is at a complete stop, and when your child can see the bus driver. Practice
crossing the street, equally important for those walking or biking. If there are seat belts they should be used and the student should not move around the bus. Remember in car pools all passengers should be in an appropriate booster
seat or seat belt and all children under 13 should be in the rear seat.
It is an exciting time for children to see old friends and to make new friends. Having friends is another skill that has to be practiced. Very young children have to be guided in the practice of sharing and as they grow they need practice
in being kind and having give-and- take in play and conversation. Being successful in developing friendships is important for having meaningful relationships in adult life.
Being kind and how to have conversations can be taught by play acting. This can also be a time to bring up bullying and play act how to respond if your child is being bullied or is the bully. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social.
It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, over the internet or other devices like cell phones. Children need to know that it is OK to talk to a trusted adult if they have seen or been bullied. Do
they know who is a trusted adult? They need to know that they can always talk to you about their concerns about their friend or bullies.
Knowing who the trusted adults are can help build a safe environment and allow children to talk about what they are worried about whether it is bad weather, too heavy back packs, bullies or guns. Being a trusted adult takes practice also.
by Sally Robinson, MD Clinical Professor
Keeping Kids Healthy
Published August 2023