SIOUX CITY -- Sioux City Community School students will likely return to the classroom Friday with all the back-to-school staples -- backpacks, notebooks, folders and pencils. But preparing for a new school year goes beyond supplies. Establishing a routine in the days and weeks leading up to the first day of school will help students transition from lazy summer days to hitting the books.
Though adjusting bedtime to ensure your child gets 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night should ideally happen a couple weeks before school begins, Darrell Langley, a counselor for Sioux City Community Schools, said it's not too late to help your child's body and brain get back on schedule. For some families, that might mean turning out the lights at 8:30 or 9 p.m. Langley said parents should also begin limiting screen time.
"Kids are going to want to continue to stay up late, probably to stay on their devices -- their gaming stations, phone and iPads," he said. "Start getting back on a school schedule for that. I think that families try to regulate that, especially during the school year."
Less than two weeks remains until the Aug. 23 opening of a new Bryant Elementary School, which replaces a prior school with the same name that dated to the 19th century.
Some kids are night owls, rather than early birds, so getting up in the morning for school can be challenging. Langley advises parents to put those wake-up times for school into practice now.
"Morning routines and evening routines are very important. Many families find it helpful to do some of their routines in the evening so that the mornings aren't so busy, like laying out their clothes, getting all of their things in their backpack, and putting their backpack in a certain spot so that they're ready to go in the morning," he said.
Maybe your child is starting the year at a new school or in a new school building, which might cause some jitters. Langley encourages parents to visit the new school with their child before the school year starts. He said just allowing children to talk about their feelings is the best way to combat anxiety and worry.
"I encourage parents to get their students excited about coming back to school. Talk about them getting to meet new friends and new people if they're changing buildings," he said. "Just kind of build the excitement."
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Langley said stress can manifest itself in a variety of behaviors, including withdrawing, crying and tiredness.
"Some of the tiredness could be just getting back on a schedule, but some of that tiredness could be anxiety and worry," he said. "Listen to your child and try to get them to articulate as much of their feelings as they can. When they're talking, just try to affirm what they're saying and try to provide that language to get those feelings talked about."
Your child's transportation to and from school and even what they'll eat for lunch could cause anxiousness.
"If your child's going to eat the school lunch, talk to your child about what that might look like," Langley said. "If your child has the option of a sack lunch, plan what that's going to look like."
If your child will bring their own lunch to school, Langley said it's a good idea to involve your child in the packing of their lunch the night before school. He said making a visit to the school bus stop beforehand isn't a bad idea, either.
"If your child is a bus rider, take them to their stop and talk about the times. You might even make a visual schedule for them -- 'This is our wake-up time. This is our breakfast eating time. We have to be at the bus stop at this time or we have to be in the car at this time,'" he said. "Schedules are a great tool for kids."