The start of the school year is such an exciting time. It is a time to look forward to new beginnings and to get back in a routine. For many though, the newness wears off quickly. Here are some tips to help you and your child keep the positive attitude and productive energy going throughout the school year.

1. CREATE STRUCTURE

Organization and study habits don’t just happen for many students. Designate a desk in his room, a spot at the kitchen table, or a quiet corner as your child’s homework station. Schedule a regular time with your child each week to file important items and purge unnecessary papers. Parents who systematically brainstorm, plan, and monitor organizational skills with their children give their children a gift that is well worth the time it takes.

At school, teachers who incorporate instruction and practice with note taking, memorizing, test study, and organizational skills into their curriculum are making a great investment in their students’ success for that year and years to come.

Before your child starts her homework, help her arrange the assignments either according to subject, the time required, or the degree of difficulty. Have your child complete the assignments in order, and check off each entry when she’s finished.

Prepare a weekly schedule that outlines your child’s break time after school followed by homework. While prioritizing assignments be sure to include breaks between tasks.

2. DRINK WATER

Did you know that the brain is thought to be 85% water? Our brain works by transmitting electro-chemical signals that control our thoughts, movements, and everything we feel or do. Water helps conduct electricity, which in turn supports faster thinking and learning.

Parents should help get kids into the habit of drinking water. Teachers should encourage students to have water bottles at school and to drink frequently.

3. INCREASE PROTEIN

Eating foods with high sugar content – such as many of today’s breakfast choices and snacks – can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate. These fluctuations can cause high energy followed by low energy and sleepiness. This can make it difficult to focus, think, and learn.

Protein can help to balance the sugar levels. When preparing breakfast or choosing snacks, choose ones that have complex carbohydrates and protein. For example, if eating waffles add a hardboiled egg. Add peanut butter to whole grain bread. For snacks, consider nuts, cheese, or peanut butter filled pretzels.

4. SCHEDULE DOWN TIME

Most children and adults are overwhelmed with busy schedules and time commitments on a daily basis – even weekends are filled to the brim. This constant stimulus can provide a large amount to stress to even the heartiest of systems. Providing quite time for children allows them to rest and restore the mind and body. Taking down time often results in better energy, motivation, productivity, and attention.

Some suggestions for getting more down time in your child’s life:

Talk to your child about the importance of setting boundaries and not over committing to things. They will thank you when they are older.

Limit extracurricular activities to one or two during the school year (depending on your child’s age) and let your child choose the activities.

After school, allow your child some down time for talking on the phone, messaging friends, having a snack, playing outside, or listening to music, before homework is begun.

Turn off the television and get out in nature together. Take a bike ride or a walk.

5. MONITOR HOW THINGS ARE GOING AT SCHOOL

Ask your child’s teacher questions throughout the year. For instance, “Is she getting along with her teachers and classmates? Is she participating in class? Is she able to concentrate quietly during class study time?” Don’t hesitate to share your concerns as they arise, but ask the teacher how she prefers to be contacted—and be sure to tell her how much you appreciate her insight and help.

Look for clues that your child may need extra help with schoolwork: She has trouble finishing her homework; she’s working hard, but her grades are failing; she’s anxious before tests; she doesn’t want to go to school.

If your gut tells you that there is more going on, follow your instincts. Don’t assume that it will get better or that you are worrying too much. Early intervention is crucial in many instances. Ask if there is additional help at the school. Outside services may be needed.

If outside help is needed, consider scheduling your child for an evaluation or attend one of our events! LEC’s next parent event is “Ending the Homework Hassle”. Learn how to help your child with homework, strategies for memory, study skills, and planning for long term projects. Join us September 26th at our new Springfield location or on October 3rd at our Fredericksburg center.

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