The summer has flown by and schools are beginning to open their doors and sharpen their pencils for the fall semester. Whether your kids are excited to go back to class or desperately holding on to the last few days of summer vacation, the change can have a major impact on mental health. Here are five tips to help your child mentally cope and take the transition in stride.

  1. Good Sleep Habits are Essential.

Getting enough shuteye is not only important for good grades and paying attention in class, it can help prevent depression and other mental health issues. 9-11 hours per night is recommended for children 6-13 years old, while 8-10 hours per night is recommended for teenagers. Establish a reasonable bedtime routine to make sure your child stays well-rested.

  1. Implement a Homework Routine.

Academic struggles are often connected to increased stress and anxiety in your child. Develop a plan with your student to complete homework assignments on time. Stay in contact with your child’s teachers and attend parent-teacher conferences to make sure everything is going well in the classroom. Set an after-school routine with snacks and homework before playtime.

  1. Encourage Friendships.

Support your child’s friendships by scheduling play dates and making your home a place your child feels comfortable inviting friends to. Reconnecting with friends before the start of school can mitigate stress and apprehension about going back. During the school year, help your child foster strong friendships by having their friends over for study parties and sleepovers.

  1. Eat Healthy.

Food choices affect mood, concentration and energy level. A healthy diet can boost your child’s physical and mental health, leading to increased self-esteem and better classroom performance. Serve a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains for your child’s lunch and after school snacks.

  1. Get Some Exercise.

Physical activity has been shown to decrease depression and anxiety. Everyone feels great after a workout and regular exercise can enhance your child’s self-esteem and energy level. Exercise can also help your child sleep better at night. Encourage your kid to try out for their favorite sport and find ways to be active together on the weekend.

In addition to these five tips, communication with your child is always vital. If your kid is feeling sad or stressed out about something, make sure they feel comfortable talking to you about it. Take time to listen and always be supportive and encouraging!