With the majority of kids back to school this week, researchers have been looking in to the effect it has on parents and their children. One of the most interesting things they found was that the majority felt it takes children more than a week to get back into the swing of school after they return from the summer break.
After six weeks of no homework, going to bed late and spending lazy days in their pyjamas getting back into a routine is a shock to the system.
Poor concentration, lack of energy and increased irritability are among the issues children struggle with as they return to the classroom.
According to the study of 2,000 parents, two thirds said their kids found it tough, with one week and one day the typical time it takes to adjust.
In addition, the poll found 58 per cent of kids are grumpier when they return to school, and 22 per cent are more likely to get into trouble with the teachers.
Dr. Emma Derbyshire, Public Health and children’s nutrition expert for Soreen, who commissioned the research, said: “After the school holidays, getting children back into their school routine can be difficult.
“School days can feel long and by the end of the day when we pick them up, they can by grouchy and experiencing an afternoon energy slump.”
The Soreen study research also revealed 40 per cent found their children resisted doing homework and 36 per cent were less interested in learning.
Sadly, 45 per cent complain that they don’t like school in the first few weeks.
To reset their children’s body clock from holiday mode to back to school, many parents enforced earlier bedtime (62 per cent) and set mealtimes (35 per cent).
Others admitted giving them more sugary snacks (12 per cent) and even setting extra homework (21 per cent) to ease them back into the school routine.
To try and combat tiredness, lethargy and lack of concentration, four in ten parents pack their children’s lunchboxes with foods which will boost their energy during the day.
And while 45 per cent struggle to find snacks that are healthy which the children will enjoy, four in ten did notice negative effects when their children eat unhealthy foods.
One in six parents said foods which are high in sugar or fat leave their children more agitated, while one fifth can’t concentrate for long periods of time.
One quarter of those who took part in the study by OnePoll.com said their children’s energy levels spike then quickly decline following a sweet treat.
Dr .Emma Derbyshire added: “Maintaining a good diet is vital for helping a child ease back into school so they have the energy to get through a full day.
“Fuelling your children with sugary snacks will only exacerbate the problem with children having sugar lows and spikes.
“Soreen’s Lunchbox Loaves are a tasty healthy way to fuel your child and offset the afternoon lethargy that children can often experience during term time.”
“Without good slow releasing energy, it is no wonder that children struggle with a routine straight after a holiday.”
* Dr. Emma Derbyshire’s tips on helping your child get back into the school routine:
Diet – Children should aim to eat a varied diet to get the range of nutrients that they need. Breakfast skipping should be avoided as this helps to provide them with key vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fibre.
When on the run its a good idea to pack some fresh fruit and snacks such Soreen which have slow release energy are great for lunchboxes as this will help to keep their energy levels up ready for the afternoon.
Sleep – Every child is different but children of school age need about 10 hours sleep. They should start to wind down about 1 hour before bed and devices such as I-pads should be avoided as this can stimulate rather than relax them.
A nice bath, hot drink of milk, or Horlicks can also help to relax them ready for a good night’s sleep.
Routine – As for most of us routine is key – we are, after all, creatures of habit. With a routine, children know what to expect and when to expect it.
So a good healthy breakfast, glass of water before school, mid-morning snack and drink, balanced lunch, afternoon snack and evening meal followed by some reading or family activities can really help children and prevent confusions which can develop into tantrums or arguments.
Mindset – Rather than plunging them back into school have a talk about it. Perhaps they have missed some particular friends or something they usually do at school. Start to get them ready for school by taking them shopping, involving them and asking them to pick things for their lunchbox or pencil case.