You did it! The kids are back in school, routines have been established (well mostly) and another begins. Here are ten tips to help your family navigate the transition more smoothly.
1.  Limit after school activities.  Over-scheduling undermines your child’s overall success in school, at home and with friends.  Keep the schedule simple and predictable.
2.  Ensure adequate sleep & nutrition.Most children require 10 hours of sleep nightly.  Healthy meals and snacks (non-processed, fresh foods) fuel optimal school performance.
3.  Create predictable and manageable routines. Routines provide structure, self- control and build time management skills.  Post the schedule on your refrigerator.
4.  Build down-time into your schedule.  Your child needs time to play outside every day.  Outdoor time is good for your child’s brain, body, creativity and reduces stress.
5.  Help your child get organized. Make a daily checklist (do homework, get mom/ dad to sign planner, pack backpack, decide on hot lunch or cold, choose clothes for next day).
6.  Read 20 minutes every day with your child.  Research is clear that reading everyday with your child wires their brain for learning and contributes to academic success.  It also creates an important time of emotional reconnection between you and your child every day.
7.  Limit and monitor all screen time after school and on weekends. Your child is exposed to many different screens throughout the day.  His/her brain needs a break from screens and the cyber world.  This includes every screen (in the car, cellphone, tablets, games, etc.).  Limit yourself too.  Your child needs to see that you also put your electronics away to focus on other important aspects of life.   Make a family rule, “life time before screen time.”
8.  Take an active role in your child’s education. Make attendance a priority.   Attend conferences and school events.  Volunteer. Get to know your child’s teacher, school counselor and nurse. Explore the school website.   It is packed with information and resources (i.e. homework help, assignments, involvement ideas). Read your school newsletter.
9.  Emotionally connect with your child daily. Eat together, talk, hug, hold, & laugh. Research says that family meals create security and provides important connection time. Say, “I love you.”  Ask questions that help you know your child better.  “What made you laugh today? What made you sad? What made you curious?  Who did you sit with at lunch?”  Then listen. Build intentional connection time into your routine.  Reading together is also a great way connect with your child. Emotionally secure children do better in school.
10.  Teach kids that trying new things and making mistakes is how we learn. Demonstrate the importance of learning at home and at school.   Have kids help with cooking, shopping, laundry, using math, measurement and spatial skills.  Learn something new yourself and talk to your kids about it.  Create a positive homework routine and environment.
If you have any parenting questions, concerns or would like some new ideas, please contact me! Have a great year!      
 
Lisa Weir, M.Ed., Parent & Family Educator weirli@district112.org