From kindergarten to university: Back-to-school tips and advice for parents
The first day of a new school year is like no other. Fear, trepidation, raised levels of anxiety…and that's just from parents.
This is a selection of some of the Globe's essential back-to-school advice from over the years to make the transition from summer to school easier for your kids.
For young children, getting up early might come naturally but chances are if they're a little older, this isn't the case. When that 6:30 a.m. alarm goes off, "It's wicked in my house," as one parent puts it.
READ MORE: Time to start waking the kids up early
A big decision many parents have to make is at what age they should let their child walk to and from school alone. There's no one size fits all and it comes down to two things: Knowing your kid and knowing your neighbourhood.
One of the most common responses kids have to going to school for the first time or going back again is nervousness and anxiety. For younger children, experts suggest mapping out a routine, even taking the route to school a few times. And for teenagers, rule number one is: Don't let them skip school.
READ MORE ON DEALING WITH BACK-TO-SCHOOL ANXIETY:
Eating can also have a huge effect on your child's well-being. Setting them up with the right foods, such as bananas, can go a long way to making them feel better.
An inevitable consequence of going back to school is the viruses and bugs that go around come the middle of September. Here's how to prepare for them (hint: clean hands are key).
Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail
The story goes like this: The kids have taken over the candy shop, and modern parents, cowed by their own wish to please and appease their spoiled offspring, have allowed it to happen. We are, according to a small army of self-proclaimed experts, a generation of parental pushovers, so desperate for validation from our own "special snowflakes" that we allow them to rule the roost, thus destabilizing their very sense of self and sentencing them to a lifetime of anxiety and lack of impulse control.
One author says, "Over the past 30 years, a major shift has occurred in our culture: the transfer of authority from parents to children. … Children today often choose what's for supper; they choose which social media they will engage; they often choose their bedtime and sometimes even their school."
But what if that narrative is wrong?
As a route to better grades, family conversations about learning trump parent-teacher interviews, chaperoning on field trips, and even helping with homework.
Want to set your kid up for success? Let them sleep. Sleep is brain fuel, especially when it comes to mastering complex problems. That and six other ways to build a better student.
READ MORE: How to build a better student
From the soccer field to the homework table, many parents, seeking to build self-esteem, are piling on the praise. With all the worry about rising anxiety and stress in kids, it's easy to see why so many resort to the loving "good try" lie.
But are all these compliments constructive? And do they really make kids happy?
A new year also means a new teacher, and thus a new partner in making sure your kid ends up happy, healthy and at least sort of normal. Remember, education is a team sport.
For many parents, getting into the fall groove is a harsh reminder that 24 hours just isn't enough. One piece of advice for saving time: Don't start any activities in September. Wait until the hectic activity of the month is over before enrolling your child in guitar lessons.
READ MORE: 10 brilliant time-saving ideas for families
Experts see helicopter parenting as an epidemic, leading to a generation of entitled children who don't have the life skills to deal with adversity and a less-than-perfect lifestyle. But isn't some of it understandable?
READ MORE ON HELICOPTER PARENTING:
Fueling your kids' appetites, the healthy way
Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Studies demonstrate that eating certain breakfast foods can give kids an academic edge: increasing memory, improving test scores, lessening absenteeism, and heightening positive mood and energy levels.
READ MORE ON THE IMPORTANCE OF BREAKFAST:
For teenagers, eating a breakfast high in protein can help overweight teens lose body fat, reduce hunger and eat fewer calories during the day.
Brain cells need twice as many calories as other cells in the body. Neurons, brain cells that communicate with one another, are constantly transmitting information throughout the body. A tired brain – or one that doesn't get proper nutrition – won't help kids (or adults) perform their best. Here are some brain-boosting tips for your kids' meals.
Growing kids need to refuel every two to three hours to keep their blood sugar levels stable as sustained blood sugar means kids will have more energy to concentrate in class and participate in after school sports. Here are some healthy snacks to keep your kids on top of their game.
READ MORE: Kids' snacks that make the grade
Amid full-time work, getting kids to school and driving them to their extra-curricular activities, there's little time for parents to think about what to eat for dinner. If you're racking your brain for tasty but simple dinner ideas that will appease your rambunctious children, try these easy recipes.
READ MORE: Eight easy dinners for busy school nights
Two decades ago, bland was better: cold-cut sandwiches, soup from a can or a pack of Lunchables were benign and therefore acceptable. But with every passing year, the country is becoming more culturally diverse, bringing the lunchbox along with it.
The infamous freshman 15 hits many college and university-bound students. Staving it off can be a battle, one that involves (gasp) drinking less coffee.
Keep your spending — and your debt — down
Six hundred dollars per child on back-to-school? That seems steep. One piece of advice: Make the second-hand economy your first economy.
The average Canadian expects to spend several hundred dollars per school-aged child, but how much is too much to spend on clothing? One adviser says: "We try and tell the kids to get a really nice pair of sneakers because you're in them all day. Get a nice backpack if you're in middle school. Get a really nice pair of jeans, but maybe you can compromise and get jeans at Winners that are still designer for $150 or $100. Gone are the days when the teens are wearing jeans from your basic stores."
READ MORE: When to buy your kids a $250 pair of jeans
The cost of university or college, even for children who stay in town, is too expensive to be covered by typical part-time and summer jobs. Student loans can make up the difference, but heavy reliance on them can result in debt that delay financial independence after graduation. Rob Carrick details four strategies to save money for your child's education.
For students heading off to college or university, we've got a hub where we answer your questions, from debt to investing to the job hunt.
The truth is, over one half of students will graduate from postsecondary school with debt – primarily from financing their education. These are some tips to help keep it under control.
One way to keep your debt load down: apply for all the scholarships you can find.
READ MORE: 5 tips for scoring scholarships
And, finally, don't let your savings sit in a bank account untouched. Globe columnist Rob Carrick gives his take on investing for Generation Y.
Compiled by Iain Boekhoff