The new school year is just around the corner and with it begins a new chapter in your child's life. The start of a new school year is the perfect time to form healthy habits and set goals that will help your child reach their potential. Start off on the right foot by following these seven habits for a healthy and productive school year.
Stick to a (Early) Bedtime
A healthy and productive day begins after a good night's sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends preschoolers receive 10-13 hours of sleep each night (including naps), grade schoolers receive 9-12 hours of sleep each night and teenagers receive 8-10 hours of sleep each night.
If your child doesn't get enough sleep, they'll have a hard time concentrating and engaging at school. Establish and stick to a bedtime that ensures your child will be well rested come morning.
Eat BreakfastThey say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that's because eating a nutritious breakfast provides fuel for the day ahead. According to Consumer Reports, a 2013 analysis of 36 studies published in the journal Frontiers Neuroscience found that regular breakfast eaters are more likely to exhibit "on-task behavior," such as paying attention, being alert and concentrating in class.
But not just any breakfast will do. Prepare a breakfast for your kids that includes protein—like peanut butter—and natural sugars—like an apple or banana—that will give their energy levels a boost and keep them feeling fuller longer.
Pack a Healthy LunchBreakfast is important, and a healthy lunch is important, too. Pack your child's lunch the night before school (or have them pack their own lunch if they're old enough), so you aren't scrambling to find a nutritious meal to send them to school with as you usher them out the door.
Even if your child is attending school remotely from home, it's still a good idea to pack their lunch as if they were eating at school. The practice will keep your day on track and will ensure you're not scrambling come lunchtime.
Help Your Child Set Goals for the School YearWhat does your child hope to achieve in the upcoming year? Do they want to break out of their comfort zone and audition for the school play? Do they want to double down on their efforts to raise their grades in their weakest subject?
Talk to your kids about setting goals for the school year, then write their goals down and post them somewhere they won't be forgotten. Periodically check in with your kids to see what kind of progress they're making toward their goals and to see if they need to refocus or readjust their plans in order to reach them.
Set a Regular Time Each Day for HomeworkBetween the school day and after-school activities, homework often feels like a hurried, last-minute obligation that fails to get the attention it deserves.
Help your child become a homework superstar by designating a specific time each day for them to focus on the assignments. That might be the hour when they first come home from school before they're allowed outside to play with friends, or it may be the hour after dinner before they begin winding down for the day. Choose the best time that works for your family and watch your child's grades improve and their stress level plummet.
Reward Successes and Good BehaviorSchool can be a challenge for any child, whether they struggle to pick up the latest math lesson or feel left out of social activities from time to time. Keep tabs on their challenges at school, and make sure to acknowledge their accomplishments when they face those challenges head-on. After all, studies show that parents of successful kids tend to value effort over avoiding failure.
Rewards for a job well done don't have to be involved or expensive. Even writing a simple note or pulling your child aside to let them know that you see how hard they're working is the kind of positive gesture that will keep them striving to improve.
Check in With Your KidsResearch shows that when parents are involved in their children's lives, they do better at school. Talk with your kids and ask them about their day. Inquire about what the best and worst parts of the day were and ask follow-up questions. If you know your child presented in class that day, for example, ask how the presentation went and what they thought the strongest part of their presentation was.
Keeping the lines of communication open with your child will also make it easier for your child to come to you should they experience any challenges at school. When your kids feel free to express both their hopes and fears to you, you'll know they're on the right track.
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