Many families may find that their children, both with and without a disability, become quite tired by the end of the school day. For some children this may result in them sleeping and eating better. Others may have difficulty winding down. They may become easily emotional and over-tired which may affect how they adjust and behave at school and home.
“Down time” after school is important especially during the early days of attending school. Many families try not to arrange formal after school activities especially for the first term or so while their child is adjusting to the new routine of going to school each day.
Children may benefit from some calming activities before and after school. This can help them to be in a calm and alert state ready for learning and playing at school and relaxing at home. You may like to plan some time for some calming activities in your morning and after school routine.
It may be helpful to use visual schedules to show your child when calming activities will happen in their routine.
Click here to view an example of a visual schedule for after school routine.
Remember: What is calming for one child may be different to what is calming for another child.
Try a range of activities to find the ones that work for your child.
Physical activity such as bouncing on a trampoline, riding a scooter or bicycle can help to release nervous energy and help a child to relax.
- music through headphones or a stereo
- a recorded relaxation or meditation DVD which may include prompts to breathe deeply and tense and relax muscles
Breathing activities - taking deep breaths in and out. Use fun activities, such as blowing:
- a pin wheel
- an inflated balloon across a table
- bubbles with an easy to use blower
Deep pressure touch activities such as:
- being rolled up like a “sausage roll” in a blanket
- squeezing their torso between two large cushions
- squeezing a firm stress ball
Tactile sensory play such as:
- play dough
Rocking or swinging in a:
- rocking chair
Playing with favourite, comforting toys
Screen time may be calming for short periods of time.
- watching a relaxing favourite television show or DVD
- playing a familiar game on the computer or tablet
Monitor your child’s response to particular games or programmes, as some may have a more exciting effect than a calming one.
It is generally not recommended for children to have “screen time” in the hour prior to bed time, as this can impact on children’s capacity to fall asleep.
Starting school and adjusting to the new routine may elicit a range of emotions for parents too.
When parents are able to show their children how they manage their own stress this in turn helps children to learn how to regulate their emotions and calm themselves.
It is hard to help your child calm themselves when your own stress levels are high, so it may be important to work out what supports might be helpful to help you remain calm. See supporting myself and my family which includes information about well-being and self-care for parents and carers.