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Help students get strong starts each school year
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Success in school depends more on the 16 hours spent outside the classroom than many parents may realize. Physical, emotional and social factors at home contribute significantly to academic success.
Students who eat breakfast perform and behave better in school, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children under 11 need one or two daily servings of fruit and two to four daily servings of vegetables.
Children in the after-school program at the Mississippi State University Child Development and Family Studies Center are eager for the new school year. (Photo by MSU School of Human Sciences/Amy Barefield)
“Besides serving a healthy breakfast and dinner at home, preparing a healthy lunch or paying for and monitoring the school-provided lunch is also necessary to ensure your child’s attention and energy level stays high throughout the school day,” said Jamila Taylor, project director with the Early Years Network at Mississippi State University.
Good sleep habits also contribute to the physical preparedness of children to excel in school. School-age children need at least 10 hours of sleep to function optimally.
“The beginning of a new school year is the perfect time to put sleep schedules in place,” Taylor said. “Parents can use the excitement and newness of the start of school to build healthy eating and sleeping habits.”
New classrooms, teachers, classmates and expectations can cause anxiety and fear in students.
“Children will pick up on parental attitudes,” Taylor said. “It is important to maintain a calm, positive attitude and reinforce your child’s ability to cope with new or challenging situations by assuring him or her through praise and encouragement.”
A number of household adjustments will help equip your child for the school year.
“Establishing a schedule, having a family calendar posted on the refrigerator, asking about your child’s day and classwork and discussing priorities and time management with your child are good ways to ease some of the stress associated with school for students,” said Louise E. Davis, director of the Early Years Network.
Davis, who is also a professor with the MSU Extension Service, said a parent’s anxiety can also be lessened by taking a few simple steps.
“Driving the bus route so you will know the route your child takes each day, meeting the teacher, connecting with other class parents and even making and freezing a few family meals before school starts are ways to give yourself peace of mind and a little less stress once school starts and you find yourself with less time for household chores,” Davis said. “It’s comforting to know the adults in your child’s life and to be aware of factors affecting your child’s new daily schedule.”
Finally, providing a place to do homework, reviewing homework, keeping backpacks where they are easy to find, turning off the TV for reading or homework, and keeping in touch with and volunteering at your child’s school will reinforce the importance of academics in your home.
The Early Years Network is a program housed within the MSU Extension Service and funded by the Mississippi Department of Human Services Division of Early Childhood Care and Development to provide early care and education programs and materials for teachers, directors, children and families to improve the well-being of Mississippi’s children. For more parenting tips, visit the Early Years Network Facebook page or http://earlyyearsnetwork.msucares.com.