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.
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!