- Staying Organized
- Staying on top of assignments and other commitments is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Keeping an agenda or planner helps the student prioritize his/her work according to upcoming deadlines and can make workload feel less overwhelming. Laying out a plan for the week also helps students balance school, extracurricular activities and other time commitments. (Your child can also personalize his/her agenda with decorations, stickers, making it a fun way to stay organized!)
- Prepare (or have your child prepare) his/her school bag and lunch beforehand. This can help avoid stress in the mornings.
- Having downtime. Allowing for downtime in your child’s schedule is important. This time is flexible – a time where your child can engage in whatever activity he/she wants, whether that is playing sports, reading, painting, dance, writing…
- Maintaining a good sleep schedule. Set a bedtime for your child and keep with that, even on weekends. Ensure that your child is getting enough sleep (For 7-11 year olds, the recommended amount of sleep is 10-11 hours).
- Listening to your child. If your child is experiencing anxiety in a certain situation, open up the conversation. Validate his/her fears and anxieties and work towards a solution together. (Here is a website outlining more suggestions on how to help your child cope with anxiety https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/stress-coping.html)
Summer is an opportunity for kids to grow, play and enjoy their free time. This is also a good time to encourage your child to explore new books. Reading at home can help children sustain and improve their reading skills during the summer months. Make reading part of your everyday routine –before bed, in the car, at the park and during vacation. Check out these suggestions on getting your child excited about books.
Tips on Raising a Young Reader1
- Read together. Read aloud to your child and encourage your child to read aloud to you. This gives your child a chance to practice pronunciation and work on difficult words together.
Tip: Try switching who reads aloud each page – you read a page, then your child. This can be a good tactic if the book is challenging for your child. Help the story come alive by using different voices for each character.
- Let your child pick. Give your child the freedom to choose the type of book they want. When they pick a subject they are interested in (animals, sports, non-fiction, comics, fantasy) it will help them engage in the story.
Tip: Sign up for a Montreal Library card and create weekly outings to the library (find your nearest library). This gives your child access to a range of books, reduces cost of buying new books and may become something you both look forward to each week. Librarians are also great places to get book recommendations.
Discuss what you read. As you are reading, stop and ask your child questions about the story. This interactive style of reading can improve your child’s language skills and will give you an idea of their level of understanding. Older children may prefer to read on their own. You can still engage them by asking them questions about the books they are reading.
Questions to start your discussion:
• What do you think will happen next?
• How do you think the character is feeling now?
• What did the character learn?
• What would happen if…?
• How would you feel…?
Be a role model. Let your child see that you are reading, too. Kids are copy cats! If you show your child that you value reading, they may grow to love reading, too.
1Tips adapted from:
- 5 Top Tips to Encouraging Reading, Reading is Fundamental.
- Promoting reading in school-aged children, Caring for Kids – Canada’s Paediatric Society http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/promoting_reading_in_school_aged_children
- Reading and Writing with your Child, Kindergarten to Grade 6: A Parent Guide, Ontario Ministry of Education http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/parentGuideLitEn.pdf
Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4
Between social media, television, cell phones, and tablets, electronic media have become powerful forces in our children’s lives today. According to a national study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2009, 8-10 year olds spend on average just under 8 hours per day exposed to media – a number which increases to almost 12 hours daily in the 11-14 year old age group. Despite this staggering statistic, this same study found that up to two thirds of children and teenagers have no rules regarding their media use.
It is therefore unsurprising that one of the most common questions our team hears from parents is: “how much time should my child spend in front of a screen?” To answer this question, we have summarized the recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Try to keep total screen time under 2 hours per day
- Avoid screen exposure for children under the age of 2 years
- Do not allow TV and internet-connected devices in your child’s room
- Keep an eye on what media your child is using (social media, websites, etc)
- Watch movies and shows with your child (this can be a good opportunity to talk about lessons and values we can learn from the media!)
- Establish and enforce a reasonable plan for media use including curfews for mealtimes and bedtimes
Although modern media has been criticized for its sexually explicit imagery, negative portrayal of body image, and the ubiquity of violence, it is important to remember that the media can have positive effects, too. The media is a powerful tool both educationally and socially, and has helped spread prosocial messages and increase access to information- keep this in mind when coming up with reasonable restrictions on screen time!
Choosing a summer camp for a child can often be difficult, but it becomes especially demanding when your child has mental health challenges or special needs. Here are some recommendations from Jane Bourke, our program’s coordinator and family therapy specialist.
Continue reading “How do I choose a summer camp for my child?”
Back to school is a stressful and exciting time for everyone involved. Managing this period as the parent or teacher of a child with mental health problems can be challenging, but here are some useful tips and guidelines.
Continue reading “Back to School”