Brain Ready or Not
As the summer break comes to an end it’s time for you and your kids to begin another school year. This can lead to mixed emotions for many children and teens - from happy excitement to stress, worry and anxiety. Making new friends and adjusting to new teachers can be overwhelming. For some children just hoping to fit in and be accepted can bring on feelings of anxiety.
Some brains handle this stress more easily than others and this can affect the way children learn. Here are some tips to help your child's brain be the best it can.
A hungry brain does not function very well in the classroom. Specific nutrients are required to help maintain a stable blood sugar which will help to keep the brain focused and alert. A focused and alert brain will remember and learn more easily.
Protein is an important nutrient that is often overlooked - start the day with a healthy breakfast that includes yogurt, cheese, egg, almond butter, meat or legumes.
2. After schoolYour child's learning brain has worked hard all day, using up 20% of the body’s total energy so a healthy snack and brain break are in order. While homework and extra-curricular activities are the norm after school, a short break and refuel will help to restore their energy - it’s a good time for some fruit or vegetables and hummus. Setting a specific time to start and end homework can be helpful too.
3. SleepExcited, tired and anxious brains don’t settle down just because its bedtime and children don’t usually tell us when they have difficulty falling asleep. A consistent routine before bedtime can really help to ease an anxious brain. Turning off the cell phone and computer technology 30 - 45 minutes before sleep can also help to wind down the senses.
Even homework and vigorous exercise right before bed can activate and stimulate the brain. You might try lavender oil to soothe anxiety symptoms and a warm bath can help relax the body for bed. Reading to your child or having him or her read before bed can also help to calm a busy brain.
4. SocialThe social aspect of school - new students and new teachers can be overwhelmingly stressful. It's common for parents to worry about how their children handle social issues, and at times, create unintended stress by asking questions about friends and getting along as school.
Listening and being empathetic to the child's situation can be more effective than suggesting new ways for them to engage, make friends and handle difficult situations.
If you've tried to help your child eat a healthier breakfast, modified their after school routine and bedtime habits and find that they still struggle with stress, worry or anxiety...
- Remember -
Every brain is different and how it responds to its environment is also different. What seems stressful for a child, may not seem stressful for a parent.