DETROIT (WXYZ) - Back-to-school shopping season is here, but there’s plenty more for parents to be focusing on than the best “steals and deals” of shopping.
Before your child steps into their classroom for the first time in 2019, experts are weighing in on some of the things that you can do now to ensure success throughout the upcoming school year.
1 - Start Adjusting Sleep Schedules Immediately
Summer starts with the best intentions, but most parents have come to realize that bedtimes aren’t as calculated once school is done for the year.
It’s best to start to adjust sleep schedules gradually. Dr. Caison-Sorey, the associate medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, told 7 Action News that adjusting a child’s schedule by 10 minutes at a time can help — if you take two weeks to adjust their schedule it’ll lead to better results. Children who get the recommended amount of sleep are shown to be more active, have better grades and are less likely to experience symptoms of anxiety/depression.
She recommends cutting back on cell phone use late at night too
“Stop that, and we need to turn off any screen — computers, any electronic they may have — and start to pair that down,” said Dr. Caison-Sorey.
She suggested that families create a nighttime routine to prepare everyone for the day ahead.
“Shower before bed, pick out outfits and make sure backpacks and lunches are packed,” said Casion-Sorey. “Allow for screen-free ‘quiet time’ in the evenings to help the kids unwind and relax. This can also improve sleep quality.”
2 - Schedule an Eye Exam
If your child can’t see the dry-erase board they can’t contribute inside the classroom to their fullest potential.
Dr. Gina Lynem-Walker, a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan physician consultant, suggested getting a child into an optometrist.
“You can get just a basic eye exam at your sports physical, but you should go to an optometrist to get that full eye exam,” said Dr. Gina Lyne-Walker, adding that every child should be doing so starting at the age of 3.
Family eye checks should be a regular occurrence, but scheduling regular appointments sets a good example for children throughout adulthood.
3 - Cutback on Screen Time for Children
While we’re discussing eye exams, we should also discuss how much time children are using iPads, iPhones and other electronic devices.
It’s important to note that plenty of schools are relying on computers and apps for education purposes, pair that with home use and you have kids spending several hours on screen-based electronics.
Dr. Lynem-Walker suggests a 20-20-20 method of avoiding digital eye straight — that’s a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away. The change helps avoid eye strain. You can also adjust screen brightness, keep devices at eye level and blink more often to help.
That said, designating a “device drawer” may be a useful strategy — a time when everyone in the family ditches their digital items into a drawer to cut back on the amount of time children (and some adults) spend staring at a screen. Doctors note this is also important at nighttime when you’re trying to set a routine for bedtime.
4 - Take Your Child on a School Walk-Through
School can bring out bouts of anxiety for kids — most commonly a new classroom and a new teacher top a child’s list for reasons to be concerned.
Dr. Caison-Sorey believes in school walk-throughs for parents and children to ease the anxiety.
“It really is important to get the child into the school, and if you have the opportunity to meet a teacher that’s important because that’s usually where children are the most anxious,” she said.
5 - Get Organized, Start a Chore Chart
Research shows that writing things down helps with organization — getting your child ready for an “organized approach” to school can help.
Chore charts are a great way to start young children off with getting organized. You can keep folders inside the home that are meant for signature slips, bills or reminders for kids — Dr. Caison-Sorey suggested clean-up time bins for children to learn how to cleanup toys, clothes and other items that need to be put away.
This can double for building healthy lunches — some experts suggest getting students involved in the lunch building process. An old shoe rack can double as a snack system. Empty various treats into different compartments and color code it so your child knows how many items from each color they’re supposed to use to build a suitable lunch.
6 - Plan Your Child’s After-School Activities
To avoid unnecessary stress during the first few weeks of the school year, parents can sign kids up for an activity in advance.
Whether it’s team sports, art, music or academic activities, extracurricular activities can positively impact a child’s self- esteem and give them something to look forward to during the school year.
If a child is unsure about the kind of activity they’d like to pursue, encourage them to try different activities to find the best fit. Setting a child p for success in activities and/or sports can be particularly rewarding.
7 - Prepare Your Child for Learning Again
It’s important to cut back on screen time, but that doesn’t mean cell phones and tablets don’t have a place in the culture of learning.
Most children have lost a step after a prolonged break for summer — in the old days flash cards and brief quizzes were helpful to jumpstart the learning process. Nowadays there are plenty of apps that combine games with learning that will get your students excited about learning.
Keep an eye out because later this week 7 Action News will be breaking down 7 of the best apps for educational purposes — we’ll link back to the story here when it airs on 7 Action News this Morning.
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