It’s that time of year…back to school. This time of year can be overwhelming for children and parents. Preparing yourself and your child ahead of time can be helpful. Here’s some suggestions to start the school year off right!
Making the First Day Easier
Remember that most schools are open at least 2 weeks before the first day of school. If you have specific concerns for your child it’s best to not wait until the first day of school to address them. Many children become nervous about new situations, especially new schools. Take them to visit the school so that you can find their classroom, rehearse how they will enter the school, and check out the playground. Point out the positive aspects of school so that your child is looking forward to the first day. Remind them that they will meet new friends (and see old friends too!!). If it is a new school then find a friend in the neighborhood that they can walk to school with or ride the bus with. Also, don’t forget to start going to bed earlier a week before school starts so that your child can wake up rested on the first day.
Choose a backpack with padded shoulder straps and a padded back if possible. Your child’s backpack should never weigh more than 10% to 20% of their body weight. Pack heavier items in the center. Encourage your child to use both shoulder straps so that they don’t strain their back. The bottom of the backpack should sit at your child’s waist.
How Am I Going to Get There??
Whether your child is walking, taking the bus, being driven in the car, or riding their bike to school it’s best to talk to them about safety before the first day of school.
- Wait at the recommended bus stops. Bus stops are picked by the school district because they are deemed safe locations for kids.
- Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before they approach it from the curb.
- Practice looking both ways before crossing the street. Remind your child to look before crossing the street just in case traffic doesn’t stop.
- Check on the school’s policy for eating on the bus. Other children might have food allergies.
- If your child has a medical condition that the bus driver should be aware of make sure to notify the school and the transportation department ahead of time.
- Make sure that your child has the appropriate car seat, booster seat, or well fitting seat belt.
- Your child should ride in a car seat until they reach the weight and height limit. Then they can transition to a booster seat. A booster seat is recommended until the car’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches 4’9’’ and is between the ages of 8 to 12 years of age).
- All children younger than 13 years old should ride in the back seat.
- Make sure to practice the bike route before the first day of school.
- Always wear a bike helmet.
- Ride on the right side of the road.
- Wear bright colored clothing.
Walking to school
- Children are ready to start walking to school between 9 to 11 years old.
- Make sure your child’s route is safe with crossing at intersections with adult crossing guards.
- Have your child walk with other children.
- Walk with your child the first week of school until they know the route and can cross the street safely.
Eating During the School Day
Studies show that children that eat breakfast do better in school, have better concentration, and have more energy. Offer a breakfast with protein to keep them focused longer.
Review cafeteria menus online. Let your child pick healthy options. If healthy options are not available pack a lunch for your child. Many classrooms have restrictions on snacks that are allowed due to food allergy concerns. Teachers prefer healthy snacks over junk food. Talk to your school to see if vending machines are available. Remember soft drinks can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per serving.
The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep
Children who do not get enough sleep have difficulty concentrating at school. Try to set a consistent bedtime for your child. Remember to turn off electronic devices 1-2 hours before bedtime. Younger children require 10-12 hours of sleep and teens (13 to 18 years old) require 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
Back to School Means Back to the Doctor
Don’t forget to see your pediatrician for a check up before you head back to school. They can reinforce healthy eating, exercise, sleep routines, and discuss any school concerns. Your child may also need some vaccines to keep them protected while they are at school. Your physician can complete a thorough physical exam and sign any forms needed for school or sports.
Have a great school year!!