How to make the back-to-school transition easier

August 7, 2018

While families enjoy the last few weeks of summer break, it’s time to start thinking about the new school year -- and doctors say a healthy start could involve weening kids off of screens.

“Children who are exposed to electronics have a harder time paying attention and focusing and tend to be more anxious and irritable, so it is really important in order for your child to have a smart, high-functioning and less emotional brain at the beginning of the school year to think about starting to get back to some of those healthier electronic habits now,” said pediatrician Dr. Kim Giuliano.

Dr. Giuliano suggests limiting screen time to 20 or 30 minute increments throughout the day and adjusting sleep schedules prior to the first day of school.

“It’s good to start trying a few weeks in advance by just putting the child to bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier,” said Dr. Giuliano. “Do that for a couple nights, and then once that’s a little bit easier, then another 10 to 15 minutes earlier, and so on.”

It’s common for kids to be more anxious about going back to school, and experts say talking to your child about their fears should help reassure them.

Even a trip to the school would be helpful.

“Some schools will let you come visit, so if that’s an opportunity, wonderful,” said Dr. Giuliano. “Other school buildings aren’t necessarily open in the summertime, but even just parking in the parking lot and walking up to the door and looking around the school premise could help a child to feel more comfortable.”

To relieve jitters, you can help your child practice their morning routine about a week ahead of the first day of school. However, Dr. Giuliano warns that practicing too far in advance can lead to even more apprehension.

Reminder: Children may be required to provide up-to-date vaccine records when they enroll in a new school. If your child is not up to date on their vaccine, it’s a good idea to check and schedule your child for required immunizations.

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