It’s hard to believe that Summer is already coming to an end! The transition from summer back to school can be challenging for any child and even parents! Transitions in general can be anxiety provoking, especially a child who has difficulty processing sensory information. Let’s make sure your child is ready for that first day by following some of these back to school tips!
Get your child back on a routine! Summer can be a fun time to go with the flow; staying up late, sleeping in, more activities or maybe less activities than typical. It is important to be sure your child is prepared and well rested for school by making sure they get enough sleep! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics it is recommended a school-aged child gets between 10-12 hours of sleep each night. Get that bed time routine back, so it is not a shock when school starts again.
Prepare your child for their new grade or new school by talking with them. New environments and new people can be very scary for children. Make a social story that helps your child understand the changes that will be happening when school starts again. If possible, bring your child to their new school. Validate their feelings and explain to them that it is okay to be scared or nervous, because many of their peers probably feel the same way. Point out the positives of school and help get them excited!
Backpack safety! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics your child’s backpack should never weigh more than 10-20% of your child’s body weight. Pack heavy items closest to the center of the back and adjust the pack so the bottom sits on your child’s waist. Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back and remind your child to use BOTH shoulder straps!
Diet and nutrition! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. They do better in school, have improved concentration and more energy. Be conscious of the foods, drinks and snacks you are packing for your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a child's risk of obesity by 60%. Choose healthier options (such as water and appropriately sized juice and low-fat dairy products) to send in your child's lunch.
Continue to move and play outside! Take advantage of the beautiful weather and get your kids outside to play! Climbing playground equipment, side walk chalk and digging in the sand are all great activities for strengthening and ways to activate your child’s sensory systems! If your child has a sensory diet given to them by their occupational therapist, be sure to continue with those activities. Understand that when school starts, these activities might have to be done before school to help organize their central nervous systems and prepare them for the day. Also understand that with a new routine your sensory diet activities may not be working for your family or child anymore. Ask your occupational therapist for new ways to help prepare your child for school so they are ready to listen and learn! We are here to help!
Kerry Gilroy, MS OTR/L
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics