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Routines set kids up for school success

Published:  19 January 2023

Fostering a daily routine is key to keeping your child in the classroom and setting them up for success, the Townsville Hospital and Health Service paediatric psychology team says. 

“School participation is extremely important as we know that children who regularly attend school are twice as likely be employed or continue study into their adult years,” she said.

“School goes beyond learning facts and figures; it helps children build important skills to take into adulthood, like organisation, social connection, communication and critical thinking.”

Acting provisional paediatric psychologist Rachel McClymont (right) said parents should help their children set up daily routines from a young age and encourage them to regularly attend school.

“Routine is the secure scaffold which fosters children’s’ developing brains,” she said.

“The world is new and unknown to children, but a solid routine can give them a sense of predictability in a sea of new experiences.

“Regularly attending school can help reduce distressing emotions like anxiety, whereas prolonged absences from the classroom can foster these distressing emotions.”

Ms McClymont said a good routine could include designated homework times, physical activity or team sports, and a regular bedtime.

“Parents can foster a healthy routine by setting a bedtime, taking time in the morning to eat breakfast with their little ones, and making sure their child knows exactly what needs to be done before school,” she said.

“For younger children this might be brushing their teeth and putting on their shoes, while for older children this could be making sure their books and lunch are put into their school bags.

“Once a routine is in place, make sure you let your child know in advance if there will be any changes to this routine, as children’s developing brains require more time to process complex information.”

Ms McClymont said parents should know they are not alone if their children are refusing to attend school.

“There are lots of reasons children will develop distressing emotions around school, and it is important to remember that up to five per cent of children will have a period of school refusal.

“If your child is avoiding school you can start to address the problem by reassuring your child that you are there to listen to their concerns.

Ms McClymont urged parents to speak to school staff if attendance becomes an issue for their child.

“If things are more serious, your GP can develop a mental health plan for you and your child and link you up with professional help, like a psychologist.

“You can also find support online through sites like BRAVE, which is an interactive program for the prevention and treatment of childhood and adolescent anxiety.”

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