BY DONNA KIRDAHY
Labor Day weekend signifies barbecues, visiting friends and family get-togethers. But for almost all school-age children, some parents, and even teachers, Labor Day brings anxiety as a new school year starts.
Parents and their children may worry about how well kids will handle:
finding their way around school
riding the school bus
getting along with teachers
These concerns are all part of the school experience, but parents can help reduce their children's anxiety by giving them the opportunity to express their feelings. Parents who are good listeners and have a positive attitude help their children handle anxiety.
Being organized and establishing routines also helps reduce stress for everyone in the household. Routines, from breakfast to bedtime, help everyone know what is expected and planning becomes second nature.
Research supports claims that a nutritious breakfast means children feel better, learn better and behave better during the hours prior to lunch. A nutritious breakfast can even be a quick peanut butter sandwich and milk on the way out the door. Packing a lunch together the night before saves time in the morning and involves children in the process of choosing, preparing and packing.
Following a snack and down time after school (preferably physical outdoor activity) children should complete homework before dinner, whenever possible. When children are involved in sports, music lessons or other extra curricular activities, parents will need to adjust after-school routines.
In the evening, everything that will go out the door, from gym clothes to books, backpacks and permission slips should be put in one spot to assure a smooth departure in the morning. A few minutes in the evening choosing clothing for the next day can save hassles in the morning.
Parents should set regular bedtime to prevent cranky, rushed, over-tired children in the mornings. On average, kids need 8-10 hours sleep each night. Bedtime rituals, such as reading, cuddling, talking or listening to music can ease the way to sleep and create intimacy between parents and children.
Parents play a major role in providing the foundation for their children's success at school. Parents who are organized, establish child-friendly routines and present a positive attitude let children know they can always be depended on for support.
Information courtesy of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is a non-profit educational agency dedicated to strengthening families and communities enhancing and protecting the environment, and fostering countywide economic development. Affiliated with Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is part of the state and national extension system that includes the land-grant universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. CCE's four main program areas are Agriculture, Marine, 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County (CCE)
423 Griffing Avenue, Suite 100
Riverhead, NY 11901-3071
631-727-7850, ext. 333