Remember your first day at school; first day in a new school or high school? If you do, chances are it was a rather stressful experience; but it doesn’t have to be that way for your children.
It’s the first day of school and your little one is probably feeling both excited and a bit anxious. Or he or she may be feeling just plain anxious with butterflies in the tummy as a big step into the unknown is taken when the new school year begins. This is quite understandable as the thought of a new teacher, new classmates and in some cases even a new school can be overwhelming.
The beginning of a new term does not, however, have to be fraught with stress. By following a few simple tips and guidelines children, and parents, can ease into that first term very happily.
P IS FOR PREPARATION
Use the holidays to prepare. Make sure you have bought all the necessary text books, exercise books and stationery so that your little scholar doesn’t have to beg or borrow in class.
Children also feel very left out if they don’t have all the correct items of clothing – the whole school uniform should be bought and clearly labelled with your child’s name before the start of term. There is nothing worse for a child than to be excluded from an activity such as swimming or PE if they don’t have their swimming cap or gym shorts.
Encourage and help your child to prepare school and sports bags the night before. This avoids the stress of that morning scramble where things become forgotten or misplaced and the child has to bear the brunt at school. Invest in a large block calendar to note important dates. This is especially useful if you are a large family.
D IS FOR DIET
The adage that the most important meal of the day is breakfast is especially true for children. Those little brains need feeding before the mental demands begin in the classroom. Children need a healthy balance of vitamins, minerals and protein to function at their optimum level.
Eggs pack a perfect protein punch as they contain all the essential amino acids and help maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout the morning. Vitamins and minerals can be found in fresh fruit – a banana or berries – which can be whipped into a delicious smoothie with raw honey, a spoonful of plain yoghurt and a dash of milk (goat’s or almond milk are possible alternatives to cow’s milk).
If you don’t have time to prepare a cooked breakfast, wholegrain cereals are a healthy alternative – avoid the commercial cereals on the market that contain high levels of sugar as this can affect concentration and aggravate attention deficit hyper disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Make sure your child eats enough fish, rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. DHA, the main component of omega-3 fatty acids, is essential for optimal brain function and normal visual function. Salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3.
A IS FOR ANXIETY
Should your child’s anxiety and stress levels reach an unacceptable level, there are several natural remedies to consider. The herbs passion flower, valerian and German chamomile not only improve concentration but also have a calming effect. The flower essence remedy Rescue Remedy is also highly effective in relieving anxiety and stress.
B IS FOR BACK
Overloaded school bags can cause serious back pain and spinal abnormalities. If a child carries more than 15% of their body weight over their shoulders, they may risk long-term damage.
Parents must encourage children to fill their bags only with what is needed. Avoid the fashion brands and invest in a practically designed school bag with adjustable straps. The bag should be carried over both shoulders. Heaviest items should be packed closest to the child’s back and children should not carry more than 10% of their body weight.
R IS FOR REST
It is essential that school-going children get adequate rest as a lack of sleep can affect mood and learning ability. Aim for 8 pm as the best time to get younger children into bed. This provides routine and reduces stress levels. A combination of passion flower, German chamomile and valerian can help restless children drift off to dreamland more easily.
wheat) also keeps longer in the fridge. The best drink is pure water.
E IS FOR EXPRESSION
It is useful to encourage your child to talk about their school day. This enables you to keep tabs on how your child is functioning on a daily basis while teaching your child to communicate on an emotional level.
S IS FOR SUPPLEMENTS
You may want to include a good multivitamin in your back to school regime. For the child who struggles to swallow pills, nutrients in powder form can be added to smoothies.
F IS FOR THE FINAL WORD
Make an effort to collect your little learner from school on time. It is a daunting and unpleasant way to end the day alone on the pavement after everyone else has gone home.
Editor’s Note: This article was written in collaboration with members of the Editorial Team and Daleen Totten