Students across Central Texas are heading back to school over these next few weeks. But whether they are going back in person, online, or participating in a hybrid option, there are bound to be fears and anxieties (both for children and parents) with the start of this new school year.
Child Neurology Consultants of Austin’s board-certified pediatric neurologist Dr. Lindsay Elton says it’s understandable to have these concerns during this highly unusual time.
“Children and parents alike are probably wondering how this year is going to go with a return to virtual classrooms from home and possibly pivoting back and forth between that and at-school learning,” says Dr. Elton. “The unknowns of this highly fluid environment are mentally challenging for everyone, but there are ways to help your student prepare and make the best of it.”
KXAN (NBC-Affiliate) reached out to Dr. Elton to share some “best practice”. Five ways that Dr. Elton recommends easing anxiety about going back to school and being successful in the classroom, especially in a virtual setting, include:
1. Keep your morning school day routine — that means get up, get dressed, and eat breakfast just like when school days were on campus. No lounging around in PJ’s all day! The message we want to send to our brains and bodies is “Wake up! It’s time for school!”
2. Maintain a regular schedule. Establish a set time to get up and go to bed each day. It also means setting a clear “stop” time for schoolwork to enjoy the usual play and rest time following a regular busy day “at” school.
3. Stay on top of daily lessons and assignments. Organize a time every day to log on to your school’s website and download or print out work. Use a paper or electronic planner to help stay on task, or for younger kids, a whiteboard placed in the same spot each day can help them visualize what they need to accomplish.
4. Take regular breaks throughout the school day. Stretch, grab a snack, or head outside for a few minutes of fresh air between assignments or Zooms.
5. Make sure to get some form of physical activity every day. Exercise is crucial not only for young bodies as they are growing but for young minds also. Getting excess energy out during the day will help them stay focused later on and tire them out for better sleeping at night.
Another good tip to help children and teens feel like they have a bit of control over this situation is to give them ownership of small things like deciding where they do their work and decorating their space or picking out fun school supplies even if they will just be used at home.
Additionally, if your child has ADHD or Autism and has scaled back their medication over the summer, now is a good time to check in with your physician about gradually ramping it up again to help sharpen focus again at school.
Child Neurology Consultants of Austin has experience treating a wide range of neurological and rheumatic disorders in children and teenagers from 0 to 21 years old.
For an appointment with one of our specialists and to learn about our current telehealth services, please visit us here.
To see the complete story on KXAN.com, click here.