by Linda Matyas, K5 Teacher
1. Sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation and Mayo Clinic, school-age children need between 9-11 hours of sleep each night. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings or behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity and cognitive problems that impact their ability to learn in school. Make sure your child gets enough sleep for a more relaxed and successful school day. If your child still naps, don’t wait until the week before school begins to start the weaning process. Enroll your child in a class or camp that meets in the afternoon.
2. Routines. Establish your routines and work together (4 and 5 year olds are quite capable of assisting in these responsibilities). Decide when and who will make lunches, pack or unload backpacks, as well as determine when homework will be done. Do what you can the night before, to avoid a stressful or crazy morning.
3. Nutrition. Children are working hard and they get hungry during the day. Make sure something is eaten for breakfast. In addition to breakfast, make sure they have a healthy lunch and snacks. Adequate nutrition helps children perform well at school. In a study published in the November 2007 issue of the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association," M.L. Fu of the Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology found that children who regularly indulged in unhealthy snack foods tended to perform poorly, compared to children who ate a healthy diet. Proper nutrition supports healthy cognitive development in children.
4. Limit changes. If possible, avoid too many changes at the same time. A child who outgrows a playgroup or advances to the next gymnastics class at the same time he or she starts full day school may be overwhelmed. Some signs of this may be regression in self help habits, acting out or inward anxiety.
5. Be excited and positive for your child. Some children feel nervous or anxious about being at school for the whole day. They may wonder what is going on at home, what am I missing? Remind them of how much fun they will have with their friends or tell them about when you went to school.
Linda Matyas is currently a K5 teacher at Waukesha Catholic, a K3 – 8th grade Catholic school in Waukesha educating over 575 students.