Back to School Brain Health Tips

Summer vacation for the millions of children around the world is coming to an end and soon school will begin. For some children this is exciting news while others do not want to hear it!

As families get closer to the big first day of school consideration may be given to the following tips to create a home environment that not only stimulates learning, but promotes brain health:

1.    Get a good night sleep and develop a routine for sleep.

Sleep is critical to the developing brain, to consolidation of new information, and     to the brain getting the deep sleep it needs to be prepared to learn.

2.    Eat a good breakfast.

Try to get to be early so you can get up early and have time to eat. Eating a good     breakfast relates to better learning and to energy production for the child.

3.    Exercise.

Encourage your child to be physically active in sports, walking, exercise, and dance.     Movement and exercise relates to brain health and to better learning.

4.    Have Quiet Time.

Provide 20-30 minutes of down time for the child to simply reflect on the day’s     event without any task to complete. The brain does well without constant stress or     activity. Relaxation and breathing techniques can help.

5.    Structure Screen Time.

Many youth are drawn to the cell phone, television, computer, etc as means of     socialization. During the school year it is important to control the amount of time     the child’s brain is involved with a screen as this will prevent time studying,     recreating, or relaxing. Consider providing your child with one hour a day of     screen time and let the child decide how to use his or her 60 minutes. This will     give them a sense of control and obligation to focus on school work, chores, etc     the other time.

6.    Recreate and have Fun.

After a hard day of school or work it is important to let the brain escape and have     some fun. The child will likely benefit from a little fun after school and prior to     re-engagement with studies later in the evening. This may not be the best     approach for some children who need to complete their studies immediately after     school and then go recreate. It is important to monitor your child’s behavior to     know which is best. Regardless, the brain needs relief for some period of time     regardless of age.

7.    Eat more Brain Healthy Foods.

Try to encourage your child to eat fish more often, to consume more fruits and     vegetables, and to eat less fast food, and processed foods.

8.    Promote Family Time.

Try to create a nightly time to have the family talk about their day as this will     promote communication skills, family relations, and problem solving as the entire     family     can celebrate good news and help those who may have had a difficult day.

9.    Organize and Plan

Help to teach your child how to organize their “stuff” and get prepared for the     school day the night before. This can help to save valuable minutes that will     prevent racing to the school bus while not eating. Also, help the child organize     their studies so he or she develops a strategic approach to their class demands and     homework. This is not easy, but getting started early can only help.

10.    Celebrate and Keep Perspective.

It is important to celebrate the small and big achievements of children. The     positive reinforcement helps to repeat performances and provides a joyous time in     the home. Keep perspective during the tough times and encourage the importance     of learning from success and from failure. This will lay the foundation for similar     experiences across the lifespan.

Have a great school year!

Summertime can be Family Time

The hot lazy days of summer tends to provide ample time and opportunity for many activities. Youth sports, swimming, vacations, retreats, and all the time to spend with technologies. One thing that might not get accomplished is the simplicity of spending time with the family without any task or duty to accomplish, and without the technological gadgets that can distract us.

Family time remains critically important to the vitality and strengthening of bonds between parents and children and between siblings. Time can be taken each day or perhaps several times a week to simply stop everything and talk. A family sitting together inside or outside can relate well to each other. It might be uncommon for many families to share their thoughts and feelings with one another, but this will serve to strengthen the family bond.

Families can provide tremendous support to its members and be a place to voice concerns or fears. What might seem a bit odd at first can become a regular exercise of checking in with so the family stays a priority and not a thing that keeps us away from our cell phones, etc.

As summer winds down take a few days each week and create a family time where the members of your family will gather and talk. You will be refreshed and filled with energy and joy to be together focused on one another.