It’s back to school time

by Katelin Whiddon

It’s that time again — back to school! My kids are not looking forward to having an earlier bedtime and having to wake up at a certain time, but as parents, we are looking forward to the routine. It is so easy in the summer to let things slide and get used to playing hard all day and into the night. But with the return of school comes homework and responsibilities.

My oldest daughter is starting first grade this year. While we didn’t have homework often in kindergarten, I expect that to change this year. We will be incorporating homework time into our evening routines. It is so easy to let time slip away after school, and before you know it, it’s time for baths and bed. Try having your children do their homework right after school or when you get home to cross that off your list so you can enjoy the rest of the evening together. 

There are numerous ways you can help to improve your child’s productivity with homework:

Give your child a healthy snack before starting on homework. Giving them something without or low in sugar is crucial.

If homework takes a longer time, be sure to take breaks.

Do some exercise with your child to get their heart pumping, or take small children out to blow bubbles or run a quick loop around the yard. This exercise break provides more oxygen to their brain, helping them regain focus.

While some children focus best with quiet, some may benefit from relaxing music. There are numerous sources of relaxing music specifically for focusing that may help your children. If you are a believer in essential oils, several blends can be diffused to help improve focusing as well. If your child continues to have difficulty focusing at home and in school, feel free to talk to your child’s teacher and pediatrician about your concerns and what can be done to improve their behavior and success.

When school starts back, sports and activities also rev back up. It is easy to get carried away with signing children up for extracurricular activities and letting school work fall behind. Be sure not to overcommit your children (and yourself) this year.

Our children are 4 and 6 and will be allowed to do one activity each at a time. Even with only one activity per child, some evenings and weekends can get a little hectic. I feel for parents whose children have an activity every day of the week. If schoolwork falls behind, don’t hesitate to pull back on extra activities until school becomes a priority again. I want my children to know that school comes first.

A new school year is always a great time to regroup and start off positive. Always encourage your children and help to build up their confidence. Avoid “can’t statements” and help them reach their fullest potential. Here’s to a great school year!


A Conway native, Katelin Whiddon is a nurse practitioner at the Conway wound clinic for Arkansas Heart Hospital. She and her husband, Daniel, have two daughters. A University of Central Arkansas graduate, she has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and has worked previously in pediatrics.