UF expert offers ways for parents, children to cope with back-to-school stress

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Returning to school brings about stress for children and parents – from starting everyone’s day earlier to adjusting to new teachers — but a University of Florida expert offers tips to alleviate the pressure.

Parents must get the household back on a school schedule, said Diana Converse, a family life educator with UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County. That means going to bed and getting up earlier, buying school supplies and school clothes and re-establishing a morning routine for the family, especially after a summer of “anything goes,” Converse said.

“Parents need to be in charge,” she said. “Keep children on a decent bedtime and wake-up time throughout the summer or get them back on a school schedule two to three weeks before school starts.”

In addition to establishing a “back-to-school” schedule for the household, Converse also suggests parents:

 

  • Take an inventory of children’s clothing before shopping and shop with a list – keeping that list to a minimum.
  • Give each of their children a budget so they can learn to manage money.
  • Give each child age-related responsibilities for morning routines, using check-off charts if necessary.
  • Set household clocks 10 minutes fast to allow extra time.

Children stress out over different things than parents, Converse said. For example, they wonder what their teacher will be like and who their friends will be.

“If they are going to a new school, they worry about finding their way around and finding a new set of friends and if they will fit in,” she said, adding that parents should try to meet their children’s new teacher(s).

Another concern for children: They might not get sufficient sleep each night, and being tired can exacerbate their stress, Converse said. That’s why getting them to bed earlier than during the summer is so crucial.

Research shows that during the summer, some children lose at least a bit of what they’ve learned from the previous school year, according to the National Summer Learning Association. So, Converse suggests parents take their children to museums and urge them to read books and talk about them with their parents.

“This isn’t punishment, but a responsibility to keep their brain active and read for the next grade,” she said.

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By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

 

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