As the final weeks of summer in Patchogue unfold, you might find yourself taking a moment to reflect. The sun-drenched afternoons of playdates and pool times are gradually giving way to the inevitability of the school bell. That slow-growing anxiety about school preparations, re-establishing routines, and ensuring your child’s social and academic well-being starts to take center stage.
But, before the overwhelm sets in, remember: you don’t have to navigate this transition alone. Vision Martial Arts is a dedicated member of your child’s success team, offering our Core SKILLZ program. Crafted meticulously with the latest child psychology insights, it’s designed to address and alleviate your most pressing concerns, ensuring that your 7 to 9-year-old sails smoothly into the new school year.
We understand that every back-to-school season comes with its unique set of challenges for both parents and children. In this article, we’ve highlighted the ten most common challenges you might be facing, and we’ll walk you through actionable solutions from our Core SKILLZ program to tackle each one.
Resetting Sleep Routines
The summer breeze is replaced with the soft hum of crickets as the sun dips below the horizon earlier each evening. Late-night play and relaxed mornings are cherished memories of the summer months, but as the calendar turns its pages, the reality of early bedtimes and even earlier risings begins to settle in.
The transition from summer sleep routines to school ones can be jarring for both children and parents. There’s the stress of enforcing earlier bedtimes, managing resistance, and the morning grogginess. But did you know that children aged 7 to 9 typically need between 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night? That’s essential not just for their growth but for cognitive development, mood regulation, and overall health.
One practical approach is to ease into the school sleep routine. Instead of an abrupt change, shift bedtimes 15 minutes earlier each night, gradually working your way to the desired time over a week or two. This allows both the body and mind to adjust without too much disruption.
And here’s a trick we swear by at Vision Martial Arts: involve your children in the process. In the Core SKILLZ martial arts program, we set up activities like pushups, not as tedious exercises but as positive challenges that fortify them. In the same way, getting a good night’s rest can be framed as a nightly challenge to help them grow stronger, smarter, and happier.
Just as we incorporate intellectual discussions in our Core SKILLZ program, explaining to kids the ‘why’ behind the sleep routine can be transformative. For instance, relate sleep to charging a battery. Their bodies, like their favorite gadgets, need ample time to recharge. By discussing the benefits of healthy sleep, like having more energy for school and play or even growing stronger, children become more receptive and understanding of the change.
Additionally, having a visual indicator of success can help. Help your child create a sleep chart. Include bedtimes, awake times, and aa column where they can rate the quality of their sleep each morning from Grumpy to Get Up and Go! Seeing the results can help reinforce the idea that sleep is important.
Reintroducing Focus & Discipline
The hum of a cooling fan, the soft chatter of the TV in the background, and a relaxed schedule might have set the tone for the summer days. But as the school season approaches, there’s an underlying beat of structure and routine that begins to play. A tune that requires focus and discipline.
Many parents, when they think of discipline, immediately associate it with punishment. This is not surprising given the commonly held misconceptions. Yet, discipline’s root meaning is “to teach.” And in that vein, it’s all about guidance, structure, and teaching our young ones the necessary skills to navigate the world around them.
Douglas McGregor, in his renowned Theory X and Theory Y, paints two contrasting pictures of human motivation and management. While Theory X presumes that people inherently dislike work and must be strictly controlled and directed, Theory Y suggests that individuals are self-motivated and thrive on responsibility. For our 7 to 9-year-olds, fostering a Theory Y environment is key. These youngsters have the desire to learn, grow, and accomplish, and our role is to guide and support them in that journey.
Remember, at this age, children typically can follow two or three commands at once. It’s vital to break our instructions down into manageable chunks. For instance, rather than saying, “Clean your room, do your homework, and then set the table,” start with, “First, clean your room. Let me know when you’re done, and we’ll discuss the next task.”
Intrinsic motivation is the golden key at this age. It’s about lighting the fire within rather than externally driving them. In our Core SKILLZ martial arts classes, we’ve mastered the art of tapping into this intrinsic motivation. We present our young learners with value-based choices. For instance, we might say, “If you want to get super strong, you’ll do ten pushups. But, if you’re aiming to be black belt strong, aim for twenty. And for those of you with Master Ninja dreams, FIFTY pushups is your goal!” By framing choices in this manner, we’re not just teaching them martial arts but also how to take ownership, set personal goals, and chase them with gusto. Just remember when offering choices that all of the outcomes should be acceptable to you as the parents. We want to set them up for success, not add stress.
The waning days of summer can evoke a tapestry of emotions in young hearts. A mix of excitement, anxiety, and the subtle pangs of growing up. There’s the joy of new school supplies, the thrill of meeting new classmates, and the apprehension about unknown challenges. Transitions, especially from the relaxed cocoon of home to the structured school environment, can feel like stepping into an unfamiliar realm. And how these transitions are handled can set the tone for much of the year.
Imagine the first morning back: the sudden buzz of the alarm clock, the scramble for breakfast, the hurried search for matching shoes, and the realization that the new classroom might have unfamiliar faces and a teacher yet to be known. It’s easy to see how a child can feel overwhelmed.
Now, think long-term. The potential stress doesn’t just start on day one. The anticipation, the conversations, and even the commercials and shopping outings weeks before school begins can already introduce low-level anxiety for some children.
In our Core SKILLZ classes, one of the cornerstones is teaching about courage and self-defense. It’s not just about physical prowess but about mental and emotional preparation as well. Facing the unknown requires tools, strategies, and self-belief.
A strategy we’ve found helpful is role-playing. Just as we’d simulate possible scenarios in our martial arts classes for self-defense, role-playing the back-to-school process can provide kids with the rehearsal they need to face the actual event with confidence.
Set up a “mock school day” at home. Begin with the morning routine: waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and “going to school” in another part of the house. Introduce challenges like finding a lost shoe or coping with a “difficult classmate” (a stuffed animal or toy can play this part). Discuss the feelings and strategies to handle such situations. The more they practice, the more equipped they’ll feel.
By allowing kids to “experience” school in the safe home environment first, they’re better prepared to tackle the real thing with confidence, understanding, and resilience.
While mornings might be all about the anticipation of heading to school, afternoons and evenings are colored by the experiences, learnings, and emotions of the day. It’s in these twilight hours that parents might encounter what’s known as “After-school Restraint Collapse.” Ever notice how your child can hold it all together at school, but when they walk through the front door, there’s an emotional release? That’s the phenomenon in action. It’s their brain and body signaling that they’re in a safe environment where they can let their guard down.
For children between 7 to 9, this shift from school mode to home mode can be especially turbulent. They’ve matured enough to handle complex tasks, social interactions, and lessons at school, but they still need the nurturing cocoon of home to express, process, and recharge.
To help your child make this shift more smoothly, consider the following strategies:
- Physical Activity: Just as we use bursts of physical activity in our Core SKILLZ classes, introduce a mini routine as they get home. Maybe it’s a quick game of catch, a few jumping jacks, or even a short dance session to their favorite song. Physical activity helps to channel any pent-up energy, resets their system, and prepares them for a calmer evening.
- Leading Questions: Instead of the broad, “How was your day?” try specific prompts like, “Tell me something funny that happened today,” or “What was the most challenging part of your day?” These leading questions encourage children to think and express more vividly, providing insights into their daily experiences.
- A Listening Ear: In our martial arts classes, we’ve learned the power of simply being there and listening. Sometimes, children just need to talk, express, or even vent. Be that safe space for them without immediately jumping into ‘problem-solving’ mode.
- Structured Downtime: Not every moment post-school needs to be structured. However, setting aside specific times for homework, free play, and family time can give children a sense of predictability and calm.
By understanding the emotional and physical transition our children experience as they move from school to home, we can create an environment that’s both nurturing and empowering, setting them up for success both on and off the mat.
Anxiety Over New Friendships
As children grow, their understanding of the world and their place within it begins to evolve rapidly. This is particularly evident when it comes to social interactions. For many 7 to 9-year-olds, a significant concern as they head back to school is the prospect of making and maintaining friendships. And while we often consider anxiety to be a primarily psychological condition, for children, it often manifests physically. A child saying, “My belly hurts” or “I feel sick” on a school morning may not always be battling a physical ailment; it could very well be anxiety over the school day ahead.
Understanding this, at Vision Martial Arts’ Core SKILLZ program, we don’t just train the body but the mind as well. Agility is a key principle – and while this certainly includes physical footwork, it also encompasses mental agility. Here’s how we approach it:
- Fluid Thinking: Teaching kids that just as water flows around obstacles, our thoughts and feelings can be guided in directions that benefit us. If one way seems blocked, there are countless other paths to explore.
- Roleplay: Through role-playing, we simulate various social situations. This not only gives children the tools to handle real-life interactions but also the confidence to know that they can. For instance, how do you introduce yourself to someone new? How do you join in a game or activity? How do you handle a disagreement?
- Social Agility: It’s an inevitable truth that not everyone will like us, and that’s okay. In our classes, we teach children that it’s not about trying to fit into every group but about finding the groups where they genuinely belong. If one social setting doesn’t feel right, it’s perfectly acceptable to shift and find another where they feel more at ease and accepted.
By integrating these principles, children are not just prepared for physical challenges but also for the nuanced social dynamics of the school environment. With the right tools and mindset, the anxiety of forming new friendships becomes a challenge they’re equipped to navigate with grace and confidence.
Homework & Study Routines
Homework: For many children (and let’s be honest, parents too!), this word can often feel like a dreaded task that hangs over the joyous hours after school. But what if it didn’t have to be this way? What if homework could transform from being a necessary evil into a constructive, even enjoyable, learning experience?
- Be Part of the Learning Process: Instead of the typical “Did you do your homework?” try changing the narrative. Ask your child to teach you something they learned that day. By engaging them in this manner, you’re not only reinforcing their learning but also showing genuine interest in their academic journey. Plus, the act of teaching solidifies understanding!
- Gamification: Turn learning into a game! For instance, if your child is working on math problems, create a fun quiz where you’re the student and they’re the teacher. If they’re into a particular board game or video game, see if there’s a way to integrate their studies. The key is to make learning interactive and fun.
- Pomodoro Technique for Kids: The Pomodoro Technique, traditionally used by adults, involves focused work periods followed by short breaks. This can be modified for children, especially those who might be neurodivergent or have ADHD. Try a 15-minute focused study period followed by a 5-minute break. During this break, allow your child to stretch, dance, or do something they love. This helps to refresh and recharge them for the next session.
In our Core SKILLZ program, we emphasize the principle of continuous learning and growth. Whether it’s a martial arts technique or a math problem, the idea is to approach challenges with a curious mind, determination, and the right strategies. These principles can easily be applied to homework routines, making them more productive and less stressful for everyone involved.
Coping with Performance Pressure
It’s a curious phase for kids between the ages of 7 and 9. Outwardly, they often radiate confidence, proudly showing off their newfound abilities and knowledge. However, beneath that facade of confidence lies a delicate emotional landscape. It’s not uncommon for kids in this age bracket to suddenly feel overwhelmed by expectations and pressures. Whether it’s a math test, a school play, or even social interactions, the weight of wanting to excel can be heavy.
The external show of confidence is vital for them. It’s their armor, their way of showing the world they’re ready. But what happens when that armor feels too heavy? This is where they might freeze up, lash out, or simply not perform as they’d hoped. As a parent, recognizing these signs is the first step. Here’s how you can support:
- Normalize Emotions: Instead of saying, “Don’t be nervous,” acknowledge their feelings. “I see you’re feeling a bit anxious about the test. That’s okay; it’s normal to feel that way sometimes.”
- Focus on Effort, Not Outcome: Shift the conversation from results to the process. “I’m proud of how hard you studied,” or “I noticed you practiced a lot for your recital. That’s commendable!”
- Practice Visualization: Before a big event, encourage your child to close their eyes and visualize it going well. This positive imagery can be calming and boost confidence.
In our Core SKILLZ program, when students are introduced to a challenging new technique, we utilize these child psychology principles. We acknowledge the difficulty, praise the effort, and guide them through visualizing success. This approach not only aids in mastering the technique but also inculcates resilience and a healthy approach towards challenges in their daily lives.
Managing Separation Anxiety
At ages 7 to 9, children often teeter between showcasing surprising maturity and reverting to the familiar comforts of their earlier years. While they might sport a façade of grown-up confidence, the underlying currents of needing parental assurance still run deep. It’s a natural phase, an intermediate stage where they are testing their wings, yet not entirely ready to soar independently.
A common misconception is that pushing children towards independence will naturally breed confidence. However, pressing too hard can lead to the exact opposite effect. Children might feel overwhelmed, isolated, or unsupported, which can exacerbate feelings of anxiety. What children in this age range need is a balance—a gentle nudge to explore, paired with the knowledge that their trusted safety net (you, the parent) remains firmly in place.
Here are ways to provide that equilibrium:
- Open Communication: Engage in discussions about their feelings. Ensure they understand that it’s natural to miss parents and feel apprehensive about new environments or experiences.
- Reassure Presence: Regularly reinforce that you’re always there for them, even if not physically present. “Remember, even if I’m not right beside you in class, I’m always with you in your heart.”
- Celebrate Small Steps: Celebrate their independent feats, no matter how minor. This positive reinforcement can build genuine confidence over time.
In the Core SKILLZ program, we emulate this balance. While we encourage students to perform techniques independently, they’re constantly reassured that should they need help or guidance, an instructor is always at the ready. By creating such an environment, we witness children’s confidence flourish, as they recognize they have the support to face challenges and explore new terrains.
Extracurricular activities offer an enriching experience for children, providing them with a platform to discover passions, hone skills, and foster holistic personal development. However, for many parents and children, navigating the plethora of options, from sports to arts to academic clubs, becomes a challenging task. There’s an underlying question: how much is too much?
At the ages of 7 to 9, children are naturally curious, eager to explore, and frequently bursting with energy. Yet, it’s crucial to ensure that their schedules aren’t so packed that they’re left feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or robbed of simple play and relaxation time.
Here are a few strategies to help you and your child strike the right balance:
- Prioritize Interests: Sit with your child and discuss the activities they truly love. It’s better to deeply engage in a few activities than to spread oneself too thin.
- Schedule Downtime: Just as you might block out time for a soccer practice or music lesson, ensure there are slots in the week dedicated to rest and free play.
- Monitor Energy Levels: If your child consistently seems drained or has recurrent meltdowns, it might be time to reassess their activity load.
- Encourage Variety: Ensure that there’s a mix of physical, creative, and cognitive pursuits in their weekly routine.
In Vision Martial Arts’ Core SKILLZ program, we understand the value of balance. Martial arts isn’t just a physical endeavor; it teaches discipline, focus, and mindfulness, all of which can help children manage their time and energy across various pursuits. Moreover, our program emphasizes the importance of rest and reflection as much as it does on action, setting a foundation for children to understand the importance of equilibrium in all facets of life.
As the back-to-school season beckons, there’s no denying the blend of excitement and anxiety it brings. Armed with a better understanding of the unique challenges faced by 7 to 9-year-olds and strategies tailored to address them, parents can confidently navigate this transitional period. Vision Martial Arts isn’t just a space to learn kicks and punches; it’s a holistic development haven. Our Core SKILLZ program mirrors life’s challenges and triumphs, providing invaluable lessons that resonate beyond the mats. Together, as a community, we champion the growth, resilience, and flourishing of our young learners, ensuring they’re not just school-ready but life-ready too.
To start your child’s martial arts journey, click the button below to schedule a free SKILLZ placement evaluation:
Vision Martial Arts
218 Medford Ave
Patchogue, NY 11772
Author: Michael A Evans
Michael’s journey in martial arts began in 1985, and he now proudly holds a 6th-degree black sash, mentored by Moises Arocho. As the founder of Vision Martial Arts in Patchogue, NY, he not only offers robust martial arts training for adults but is also deeply committed to childhood development. Through martial arts and various movement techniques, he empowers kids and adults to realize their potential and shine. Beyond the martial world, Michael wears the hat of an editor for Onward Science, and collaborates on the enchanting “Little Laurie Science Stories” book series and the Ninja Née Science Education Program. Educated at the NY College of Health Professions, he brings therapeutic relief to many as the lead massage therapist at Massage LI.