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These Back To School Tips Can Help Parents Support Their Kids This School Year

Dusan Stankovic
Getty Images

Back to school season is here, and with it comes a lot of changes. Whether your child is just starting school or going back after summer vacation, it can be both exciting and stressful. At Life Kit, we're rooting for you and want to help keep that stress to a minimum. We've gathered some episodes that we think will help, from what to do about anxiety to how to have tough conversations that might come up because of school.

How to make decisions for the family

Back to school can mean a lot of decision-making. Should your child play soccer? How many clubs is too many? Does my child need a cellphone? With so many options, it's easy to get overwhelmed, but economist and parenting expert Emily Oster is here to help. Oster's latest book, The Family Firm, breaks down the essential questions you need to ask and the data you need to make decisions that lead to a more flourishing family. See Oster's approach to streamlining decision-making here.

What to do about your child's anxiety

New school, new faces, new teachers, new subjects of learning — it can be a lot for anyone, especially kids. But anxiety doesn't have to be debilitating. Renee Jain, founder of GoZen!, an online platform that helps kids manage their anxiety, and Dr. Shefali Tsabary, a clinical psychologist, are authors of Superpowered: Transform Anxiety Into Courage, Confidence and Resilience. In this episode, they share seven ways to help your kids reframe their anxiety.

We're also going to take a moment to talk about one specific type of anxiety. "Number anxiety" from math affects as many as 93% of Americans, by some estimates. This episode offers four tips for sharing math concepts as part of everyday activities to help kids get familiar with the subject without undue pressure.

Answering tough questions when they come home from school

A great thing about sending your child to school is that they will get to meet kids from different backgrounds. They get to share ideas and experiences with their new peers and friends. Sometimes this leads to questions about big, heavy topics when they get home. Whether it's climate change, scary things in the news, race or other topics, these episodes will help you answer those super tough questions.

Screens: are they good or bad?

After the pandemic forced millions of children to pivot to remote learning, screens, be it a tablet or a laptop, became even more of an essential tool in the classroom. But is that a good thing? It depends. This episode offers four ways to harness the advantages of screen time. On the flip side, kids can become obsessed with screens. If this sounds like the situation in your family, this episode explains what to do to help your kid have a healthier relationship with technology.

Sleep is important — for both you and your children

Sleep is essential for both kids and you, their parents. But sleep schedules can vary in the summer when school is out.This episode goes over a few best practices to help you get the rest you need to keep going the whole school year. Good sleep hygiene, from going to bed at the same time each night to creating a calm environment to keeping phones and devices out of the bedroom, is often passed down to kids from their parents. Working on sleep routines is a lesson for outside the classroom that can benefit your kid's time in the classroom.

We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at LifeKit@npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Wynne Davis is a digital reporter and producer for NPR's All Things Considered.