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Expert offers top tips for prepping your Preppie for school

Published:  16 January 2020

With just over two weeks until school starts, a Townsville University Hospital paediatrician said now was the time to get children back to their regular routines.

Dr Jason Yates said for the past six weeks most children had been making the most of relaxed bedtimes, eating when they were hungry and spending time on electronic devices.

“Now is the ideal time for parents to put some structure into their children’s day, making it easier for them to settle into the routine of school life,” he said.

Dr Yates said this was particularly important for soon-to-be Prep students.

“At this age, children are playing freely and eating when they’re hungry; start now with a set time for morning tea and lunch and practise sitting quietly to listen to a story or play a simple board game to make the transition to school a smooth one,” Dr Yates said.

Dr Yates said children needed a consistent bedtime in the lead up to the new school term.

“Prep children need between 10 and 12 hours sleep a night so ideally parents should be aiming for a 7.30pm bedtime; a good night’s sleep helps a child’s concentration, attentiveness and behaviour,” he said.

“Now is also the time for parents to scale back on the use of electronic devices, like iPads or video games, which can inhibit sleep.”

Dr Yates said some children would be upset on their first day, but it was vital that parents not delay their goodbyes at drop-off.

“Find their teacher and introduce them, and if possible look for someone in the class they might know,” he said.

“Don’t linger over the goodbyes or come back for multiple kisses and hugs.

“Reassure them you’ll be back after school, say goodbye and leave; there may be some tears, but they will settle down much quicker if you don’t prolong the inevitable.”

Dr Yates said it was also important for parents to have reasonable expectations of Prep children.

“Children develop and learn at different rates and they need time to adjust to the school environment and routine,” he said.

“We need to give them time and space to get used to things and not jump to hasty conclusions about behaviours or learning abilities.”

Dr Yates said starting school was also a good opportunity to promote healthy eating with lunch boxes that included a sandwich, two or three serves of fruit, raw vegetables, and water.

“Avoid processed or packaged food and sugary drinks which are not good for children’s teeth and can affect behaviour and energy levels,” he said.

Dr Yates said above all, the most important thing was to be supportive and positive about starting school.

“Discuss with them what they will be doing but don’t make it a bigger deal than it is,” he said.

“Starting formal education is a big change in a little person’s life and having a supportive foundation is a key to future success.”

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