Even though I’m not headed back to school, I always start to think of all the students heading back to school at this time of year. All students, the very young ones just starting and the older students who have a lot of school experience, face a lot of pressure at school.
As you know, I believe that small changes make big shifts. I think that if students and the adults who take care of them make a few small changes at the start of the year, they can put the odds in their favor and have a great school year. With that in mind, I have four recommendations as you head back to school.
Eat Healthy Food
Maybe over the summer you felt like you had some extra time, so you made more meals at home. Or maybe you went to the farmer’s market as a family, so you had more fresh produce around to snack on. For most of us, heading back to school seems to fill the calendar up so much more and makes it easier to just swing by the drive-thru.
It is so important to eat healthy food. Healthy food keeps kids healthy, both in terms of their growth and development, and also in being able to fight off the nasty bugs that can circulate through a school or daycare.
For ideas on how to incorporate more healthy food, check out this article, and for new recipe ideas, sign up for my emails and you’ll get a new recipe every week.
Routines help us accomplish the things we need to. They also help us move through our day more calmly. Before school starts, sit down with your family and talk about your routines, especially your morning routine, evening routine, and food plans.
I always start thinking about routines with what time I have to go to sleep. Sleep is crucial for everyone, but especially students. Your brain can’t function properly if you aren’t getting enough sleep. What time do you need to get up? Count back and set a bedtime that allows you a minimum of 8 hours of sleep. Often because of their age, students may need more (especially teenagers! Don’t think you’re exempt!), so plan for it.
With your bedtime and wake-up time set, plan the rest of your nighttime and morning routines. When do you want to shower? Pick out your clothes? How do you get to school? When do you need to leave? When do you pack your lunch? Remember that many of these things can be done at night (clothes, lunch, making sure everything is in your backpack), and can make the morning much easier.
If you’re parenting a young child and are worried about the frustrations that sometimes come with getting out the door in the morning, remember that children need a little transition time. If you plan 15 extra minutes into the morning routine, you can cuddle with them for 2 minutes when you wake them up, and you can give them a 2 minute warning that they will need to have their breakfast eaten, or their clothes on, or their teeth brushed, or walk out the door. All of that gives them time to mentally prepare for the change.
The eating healthy tip can also be helped by a routine. Many people find it is easy to make food on Sunday that will last as lunches for the week. Or they prepare a couple of staple items, like a big pot of rice or grilled chicken breasts, that can be reused in dinners throughout the week.
One of the most intimidating parts of school is finding new friends. You might feel comfortable at your school and that you already have your set of friends, but you might be moving to middle school or high school this year. You might not have many classes with the friends you already have. And even as an adult, I feel intimidated when I have to find someone to eat lunch with at a crowded conference.
Choose to be friends with kids who are nice to other kids. If someone is nice to the people around them, that’s who you want to be around. They will be positive and you won’t have to worry about how they will treat you in a few months. They will also be a good influence on you.
When you are ready to take a step outside your comfort zone, look around you for the kids who don’t have friends. If they always seem to be alone in the hallways, smile and say hello. If someone is sitting alone at lunch, go over and talk to them. Take one of your friends with you.
This is so important that I’m not just going to tuck it into the advice about routines.
We need sleep, but we also need time to rest and recharge. This is time that you give to yourself, so you can choose to do the things that help you feel calm, centered, and rejuvenated. It could be family time, or movie night. It could be time to read a good book, or draw, or make music. It could be time to go to the park, or the lake. Or it could be time you just spend quietly at home reconnecting with yourself.
I hope that all the students have a wonderful year and learning many new things both in and out of the classroom! Let me know what you are most excited about this school year in the comments.