A new school year has arrived, bringing relief for some parents, and at the same time bringing the challenges of transitioning from the long Summer holidays into the fast-pace, demanding school routine, with perhaps a new school, new teachers, and new friends.                                               

We want our children to enjoy their time at school and get the most out of it academically and socially.

What do parents need to know & what do children’s brains need to function at their best?

Let’s consider the following factors, accepting that these are part of the larger context of human needs including emotional connection, good nutrition, and exercise.

A child’s brain needs to be well-hydrated, well rested and free from frustration in order to function optimally.


Brain cells require a delicate balance of water & various elements to operate. When that balance is disrupted, brain cells lose their efficiency; it becomes harder to concentrate & impairs mental activities. So children need to drink water throughout the day.

Also, considering that the cumulative effect of a night’s sleep is to dry out, children need water first thing every morning.


Being well rested is about getting enough sleep as well as having time during the day to relax and play (and that doesn’t mean on a play station!).

Sleep is essential for a healthy nervous system. Recommendations are:

3-5 years:  10-13 hours

6-13:          9-11 hours

Consider if your child would benefit from an extra hours sleep.

Avoid over-scheduling with extra classes & playdates. Children generally need more parent connection time, relaxation time and opportunities for spontaneous creativity.


Children who are bursting with upset, boredom, complaints and different manifestations of frustration, cannot function well academically and they are difficult to parent. But can children ever be “free from frustration”?

Frustration is a necessary part of growing up and understandably present when adjusting to new schools, new friends, new teachers, new routines. However, when it accumulates everyday, it can make children emotionally constipated which shows itself in these various ways.

Listening attentively to childrens’ expressive outbursts and connecting more deeply with the child within, helps release emotional blocks and promotes emotional and intellectual development. It also renders them much easier to parent.

Being aware of these simple, powerful ideas and fine-tuning where possible, will greatly enhance your child’s academic success and support their smooth transition into their school landscape.

By Laura Newman MSc