Whether you are a parent of a young child or of a college student, back to school is an important transition for you and your children. It represents a meaningful challenge for the child: academically, socially and emotionally. The “back-to-school” transition can be prepared for proactively and my article below incorporates the perspective of a naturopathic doctor in preventing back to school stress.

Reduce Anxiety

Increasingly, children experience pressures to perform well and this tends to peak during the school year. It’s natural that some children will be anxious at this time of year, as they remember how the previous term was for them. In the weeks leading up to the new school term, take time to encourage your children to prevent excessive anxiety. This can involve re-establishing sleeping and waking and eating routines that are in-line with the actual school year.

Discuss the upcoming year, promoting a positive perspective of learning new things about the world and sharing them with you. For younger children, review the summer so they can remember what to tell their new teacher and classmates. Make a ritual for the days before school starts, new bedtime songs, reviewing the warmer clothes they should choose to wear.

Reducing Stress for the Parent

Get the school supplies early, knowing that there will likely be extras revealed once school actually begins. Figure out the carpool or “walk-pool,” whether it’s among adults in your own family, or of friends and other parents in your child’s class and neighbourhood.

If you have older children, make sure they are prepared with a good planner unless it is provided by the school. Remind them of the purpose of higher education, to help them understand and learn about the world, how they fit in it, and to be attentive to what inspires them to develop areas of interest for their future career. Realize that your own schedule will change, especially if you’re preparing the meals… you may have to do this before bed the night before so plan for it.

Nutrition Review

Make sure to be set up your children for success with nutritious meals and snacks. Remind them of the importance, despite what others in their class may have to eat…you’re giving your child what is right for them. Make eco-conscious decisions about food packaging, avoiding plastics, using reusable containers such as glass/metal/ ceramics. If your child has allergies or is in an afterschool program, ensure they have a snack that works for them and that the new teacher and staff are informed.

Immune System Stress Prevention

Back to school often means back to more frequent bacterial and viral infections. Again, a preventative approach is best and can reduce the intensity and frequency of any illness. It starts with good nutrition, re-educating your child on the importance of five to eight servings of vegetables and fruits a day, with sufficient water and beverages.

Review hand-washing and proper sneezing and coughing technique. It’s ideal to have a naturopathic doctor to recommend specific supports for your child and even for you: vitamin C, herbal and homeopathic immune tonics and stimulants, and specific dietary advice and lifestyle suggestions.

Family Planner

If you don’t already, using a “family planner” can be really helpful to keep the whole family on track. It may be a large ring-bound binder open to the current month’s calendar, or a large wall calendar.

A family calendar helps to be clear with expectations for homework time, tutoring, extra-curricular and “fun-time” activities, to relieve anxiety for the whole family. Be sure to update and review this twice a week with the family, perhaps on Thursdays and Sundays for preventing back to school stress.

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