Prepping Your Kids for Summer: 5 School Wrap-Up Tips

Prepping Your Kids for Summer: 5 School Wrap-Up Tips

Article By: Dr. Evangelynn Honegger

Dr. Evangelynn Honegger is the Lead Clinic Physician at TRUEcare Integrative Medicine, an integrative naturopathic family medicine, acupuncture, and functional nutrition practice in Kirkland, WA.

Has the countdown to summer already begun in your household? The end of the school year can be an exciting time to start summer planning, but with that same anticipation comes the challenge of staying motivated and engaged until the end of the year wraps.

If summer break is top of mind, or you are already noticing your children’s focus and motivation waning, here are some simple tips to make sure everyone stays organized, focused, and engaged! This article covers activities to reduce end of the year stress for kids, coping strategies for end of the year stress for kids, and ways to help kids stay motivated at the end of the year.

The end of the school year can feel like an endurance race... Even when kids are ready to slow down, it’s often the time when it can seem the busiest with cumulative exams, standardized testing, final projects, figuring out summer plans, changing friend groups and schools, and last-minute assignments, celebrations, and graduations... There is always so much to do and show up for!

As adults, we’re all too familiar with stress. But children experience stress, too. Children can experience stress and anxiety from disruptions in routines, from changes in their home or family life, from school or homework, from friends and social situations, and more. Helping children understand those feelings, identify, and navigate through them as gracefully as possible is an important stress resiliency muscle to build, flex, and practice.

1) What does stress look like in children?

End-of-the-year stress can impact kids both mentally and physically. Most often in the clinic, I see sleep, energy levels, and mood changes all impacting the ability to focus in teens and older kids. While in younger kids, I see tummy troubles, skin rashes, change in appetite, and most notably sleep and behavior changes, alongside a cascade of emotions that can spill over in ways you could never anticipate.

  • Physical reactions can include increased headaches, stomach pain, or sleep problems (bad dreams with restless sleep are also signs to look out for in response to stress).
  • Emotional reactions can include extra worrying, shyness, and not wanting to go to school. This can also include mood and behavior changes, wanting to skip out on fun activities, and difficulty focusing on tasks.
  • Other signs and symptoms to look for: Stress in children might include new habits like hair twirling or fidgeting, behavior changes like challenging authority, irritability, overreactions, forgetfulness, lack of appetite, and behaviors that feel completely out of the norm for your child.

2) 5 tips for parents & caregivers to support their kids.

Maintain consistent communication and routines — Go back to the basics. Identify one thing that really helped this school year be a success, stay motivated, and employ that one consistent step as part of your day.

With the changing schedules and extra commitments the end of year may bring, take time to clarify your plans and expectations during the final weeks and days of class activities to keep you both on track and ready to show up and stay engaged.

X-out the stress... Countdown to summer! You may already have a family calendar all synced-up with activities. But it can be a great motivator to have a special countdown calendar that your kids can cross off until school is done. There is no age limit on this one, and it can be a great goal and habit planning step for keeping track of end of year projects while celebrating the days completed getting closer to summer break or any activity they are looking forward to.

Stay focused on healthy habits to reduce stress — If the end of year has you more on-the-go, often healthy food routines are the first to slip when schedules become busy. Brainfood and stable blood sugar go hand-in-hand to keep kids fueled for busy brain and activity days. Pack extra fun snacks or lunch surprises. Prioritize nutrient-dense foods. Focusing on taking a multivitamin can be a great boost to ensure well-rounded nutrients are happening amongst busy schedules and helping to fill any nutrient gaps if diet fluctuates from stress, end-of-year celebrations, extra sweet treats, etc. Making sure you are meeting baseline nutrients is key, and that’s where quality multivitamins shine like the Renzo's Picky Eater Multi!

Fresh air and movement — Movement and exercise are key for any age to help cope with stress. A healthy movement routine can also help with energy levels and quality sleep. Make play and movement fun! Try to find an activity your family can enjoy together.

Grounding is another tool that can be paired with checking in on other senses and can be even more powerful when coupled with breathwork. When overwhelm hits, try a “Take 5” approach. Stop and look around, ground your feet, name what you see, hear, can touch, smell, taste — this can really help ground when things feel like too much. This can also be a fun transition activity coming home after school to reset and shake off the day.

Vitamin S – sleep! Sleep is key for healthy growth milestones, healthy immune systems, emotional regulation, and stress resiliency. Most kids should be getting at least 8-12 hours of sleep per night. Work on establishing a healthy wind-down routine, be mindful of technology input before bed, try to stay on a schedule, and keep bedtime and wake times on the weekdays and weekends the same to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.

3) Savvy supplements for stress resiliency.

With end of the year deadlines, focus might be the biggest thing I see impacted by stress along with sleep habits with a changing or full schedule. Vitamin B6 should be prioritized. This is a key vitamin to support focus, brain health, and mental performance for studying and those exams that often come at the end of the school year. Be sure to check out Renzo’s Bright & Brainy B6.

Stress can decrease our body’s immune system defenses and make us more prone to catching illnesses. Many families slow down their extra immune defenses as the weather gets brighter and days longer, but it’s a key time to keep boosting up those immune nutrients and antioxidants. Make sure the Immunity Builder Bundle — with the Renzo's Picky Eater Multi, Invincible Vitamin C, and Dynamite D3 — is a part of the daily plan.

Support a healthy nervous system to adapt to extra end of year stressors. Stress often brings on anxiety and overwhelm in both parents and children. Remember that all children reflect and take in adults’ reactions, so supporting your stress resiliency and modeling healthy coping mechanisms, while making time to support, listen, and play will be equally helpful to your kids at such a full and exciting time.

Renzo's Vitamins provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice.

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