As children, teenagers and families across B.C. adapt to their back-to-school routine, BC Children’s Hospital has prepared a ‘wellness toolkit’ for the transition.
The toolkit below provides families with practical guidance and resources to support their child or teen as they adjust to the school routine and change in their environment.
For some children, particularly those with social anxiety and other mental health challenges it can be a difficult and emotional transition. For others, they depend on the school environment for social and emotional stability and may feel relief and comfort returning to the classroom. Families are advised to adjust their approach to meet the unique needs of their child. Steps you can take include:
- Open communication: Talk honestly and openly with your child or teen, address their concerns and validate their feelings. Normalize that school can be challenging and that feelings of worry, being nervous and related emotions are normal.
- Create safe and supportive environments: Value and praise your child or teen for their unique strengths and encourage a healthy and balanced relationship with academics.
- Model behaviour: If your child is expressing strong emotions during this transition, remain calm, listen and show empathy. To help build their resilience, families can encourage productive ways of coping such as exercise, talking to others, exploring creative outlets and practicing mindfulness.
A range of free resources are available to families across B.C. to help create emotionally supportive environments for their children. Try one or a combination of the below resources:
- BC Children's Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre: The Kelty Centre helps BC families navigate the mental health and substance use system, and connects them to peer support and wellness tools and resources.
Some resources specific to school include:
There are also a number of ways families can promote physical health and well-being throughout the school year. When children and teenagers have their physical needs met, this supports good mental health and reduces the risk of serious illness, particularly during respiratory season. In the months ahead families can support their child's wellness with:
- A good sleep routine: Sleep is essential for both physical and mental health. For example, teenagers require an average of 9 to 9.5 hours per night. Gradually return your child or teenager to their school-day sleep and wake routine several weeks ahead of the official back-to-school date and ensure this routine remains consistent. Avoid electronics and screen time one to two hours before bedtime, where possible.
- Balanced nutrition: Encourage your child to eat breakfast every morning, as well as a well-balanced lunch. Families with financial concerns can engage with their child's school leadership or community groups for financial and/or food supports.
- Daily physical activity: Moving every day is good for your physical and mental health. Even short periods of activity can have significant health benefits. Exercise should be focused on enjoyment and fitness, and not on weight loss or addressing body image.
- Immunizations: Public Health may visit your child or teenagers' school during the school year to offer vaccines which protect not only your child, but your family and the entire school community. Ensure you give public health consent to immunize your child as it will provide them with the best available protection against serious illness and infections, particularly during respiratory season.
- Access health care, if needed: If your child has symptoms that are concerning to you, don't delay in seeking care from your family doctor, a walk-in clinic, an urgent and primary care centre, or for emergency issues, your closest emergency department. If you are unsure where to access care, families can call 8-1-1 for non-urgent guidance.
- BC childhood immunization schedule: For information on routine childhood immunizations offered to children in B.C., visit HealthLink BC. Ensure your child is up to date on their vaccines to prevent diseases that can be life-threatening. If you have questions or concerns about vaccines, speak to a healthcare provider, like a family doctor.
- Live 5-2-1-0: This resource promotes physical activity, healthy eating, limited screen time and other guidance to support healthy childhood development. Information is evidence-based and developed by a team of experts from BC Children's, in partnership with BC communities.
- Rolling with ADHD: This program offers free online resources for parents, teachers and teens that offer strategies, tips and practical information that can help your child with ADHD thrive in school and beyond the classroom. These resources were developed in conjunction with BC Children's.