Young kids in school uniforms

A couple more weeks to the new school term, and who's more jittery and having trouble falling asleep? You or the kids? Whether they are joining a new school or facing a milestone examination like the PSLE or O/N-Levels, here's our primer to help you get mentally prepped.

Help the Kids Help Themselves:

How Many Hours of Sleep Does a Student Need?

Young girl wakes up refreshed  after the right amount of sleep for her age.

Did you know that children in primary school generally need 9 - 11 hours of sleep, while teenagers do best with 8 - 10 hours a day? Everyone needs good sleep. It's not just about the amount of sleep, but also the quality of your sleep.

Children who suffer from poor sleep patterns or irregular sleep cycles end up being sleep deprived. Insufficient sleep can result in poor academic performance because the kids are unable to stay awake and pay attention in class.

For younger children, they may also end up suffering from injuries as they become more prone to accidents due to a lack of awareness of their surroundings. Many teens who continue to have poor sleep patterns may also end up suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia.

Make sure your child gets sufficient sleep at night every night, instead of compensating with extra sleep time during the weekends.

Help the kids develop good sleep habits and a sound sleep routine before term starts, and try to make sure that your child follows the routine even during the school holidays.

Check out the benefits of helping the kids sleep well and live better, and get them used to a sensible sleep schedule.

Related: Students Not Getting Enough Sleep

Same, But Different

Young kids going to school

We know our kids are special, but do they? Help them discover the ways in which they are unique, and build their self-confidence. It's always fun to try out personality tests or online quizzes, to uncover traits and learning styles.

Understanding how they work (“I'm a visual learner! I'd better draw a diagram of this.”) and get along with others (“I'm a social learner — I think I will ask Aziz to work with me on this project.”) will help them learn more easily and with less stress in the coming year.

Related: How to Study Smart

You Can Help Them, Too:

I Think I Can, I Know I Can!

Young girls in class laughing.

Your child's mental health is just as important as their physical health. Challenge those negative thoughts! Get the kids to talk about their anxieties and whatever else they are not looking forward to in the new school year, and encourage them to be creative in finding ways to overcome these.

For example, why not ask what's the funniest thing they can think of saying to get someone on their side? The objective is for the kids to figure out for themselves what they can do. If you have a couple of kids doing this together it could end up one surprisingly hilarious session, which will help them face the new term even more cheerfully.

Related: Building Resilience in Your Child

Thank Goodness for That

A young boy day-dreaming in class.

When they look back at the previous school year, what are the things that they can give thanks for, like that funny Math teacher? At the same time, what might they have liked to do differently? How did they overcome any problems that strengthened their confidence? Let them know that they can have a fresh start in the new year.

Related: Talking about school

What Is the Expectation?

A teen talking to her parents.

Now is as good a time as any to ask about your kids' goals for the coming year. Do encourage them to focus on these, and have a chat about how they plan to meet them, like breaking down large goals into smaller sets. How about sharing some inspirational articles or even poems?

You can discuss what they expect of themselves and what they think you expect from them (“No lah, Daddy doesn't expect you to be top in class”) — it's all about managing expectations. Remind them, too, that there may be high points and low points. School is more than education and grades. Life is a journey; you learn along the way.

Related: Stop Wishing, Start Doing

When More Help is Needed:

Here's Who Can Help

A family spending time together

Who's your child's go-to person when they need advice? Don't be disappointed if you aren't their first choice. You can suggest which supportive, responsible individuals can offer that listening ear when they need it, whether it is the makcik next door or the school counsellor.

Rope in their siblings, too. Can kakkak (big sister) advise her how not to be the blur one in class? In the meantime, keep yourself approachable and remind them that you are always available for them.

Related: Building A Supporting Network of Family and Friends

Managed all that? Great, because these tips won't just see them through the new school year, but way beyond too. Now, go enjoy what's left of the holidays!

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