Mālama Ola Minute is a series brought to you by the Kamehameha Schools Mālama Ola Division to increase awareness, promote discussion, and offer tools to improve the physical and mental health of our haumāna.
As we enter the final stretch of the school year, keiki are eagerly counting the days until summer break. However for many kids the last few weeks of school can be extremely stressful for a number of reasons ranging from final exams to leaving a beloved teacher.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a fitting time to manage your child's end-of-school stress and anxiety. Although there is no easy fix, here are six ways to help prepare your child for the transition from school to summer.
Get back to basics
Balanced nutrition, plenty of water and exercise, and regular periods of downtime and unstructured activities are essential for helping your anxious child thrive during the transition. Take this time to tune in to your child’s needs and focus on the summer fun ahead.
Plan it out
In general, kids do best when they know what to expect. So this is a great time of year to use a big family calendar that includes upcoming changes in family or school schedules. For kids who are more reliant on their typical schedules, build changes into their weekly routines by giving ample amounts of notice.
Make sleep a priority
Sleep is an essential part of a child’s daily routine and a critical component of a healthy lifestyle. The proper amount of sleep at night can help students stay focused, improve concentration and enhance academic performance during this time of transition. Experts recommend that school-aged children get 9-11 hours of sleep per night.
Power down devices
Be mindful of electronics before bed. The blue light emitted by iPads, computers and televisions can keep kids awake. Any sort of screen time can be anxiety-producing but especially time spent on social media. To minimize screen stress turn off devices at least an hour before your keiki goes to sleep. Removing devices from the bedroom is also recommended.
Celebrate small victories
Build in special time at the end of each week to recognize and celebrate your child’s efforts. This a great time to plan a kid-driven family activity such as watching a long-anticipated movie or going to the beach. Whatever it is you choose to do, keep it light and fun.
Lastly, make sure you are taking good care of yourselves. Build in additional self-care time outside of family obligations. Parents are arguably even more stressed than their children as things begin to wind down. Remember your kids are watching and learning from you. The more you can stay regulated in the midst of a very chaotic time, the more likely they are to follow suit.
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