By Anu Vatsan, MD | Pediatrics
With the start of the new school year just around the corner, now is a great time to start preparing your family to make the transition back to school smooth and easy.
Here are some helpful tips to get the whole family organized ahead of the back-to-school rush:
- Sleep schedule: Kids tend to sleep in and stay up later during the summer. Getting them back on a regular sleep schedule now will make it easier to adjust back to their school schedule. Getting enough sleep is critical for children to concentrate and succeed in school.
- School physical and vaccines: Bring your child in for their annual school physical to avoid the rush later. Be sure to check with your child’s pediatrician or family medicine provider to see what vaccines may be required heading into the new school year and ensure all medical forms required by the school are completed.
- Backpacks: Be sure to choose the right size backpack for your child; ideally a wide backpack with padded shoulders and back straps, weighing no more than 10-15% of your child’s bodyweight. Pack your child’s backpack with school essentials including hand sanitizer, tissues, bandages, and a water bottle.
- Healthy snacks: Studies have shown that children who eat a nutritious breakfast have the energy to function better at school. Make sure your child eats a healthy, proteinaceous breakfast before going to school. Packing healthy snacks like fruit, fat-free or low-fat cheese sticks, whole-grain crackers and granola bars, will keep them full and energized throughout the day.
- Checklists: While it might sound tedious, maintaining a calendar will help keep your family in tune to each other’s schedule of activities. Consider keeping cubbies, storage bins, and hooks by the front door to store seasonal essentials like gloves, hats, sunglasses or sunscreen, as well as your child’s sports equipment and other school supplies before they head out the door.
- Study or homework area: Create a quiet area in your home where your child can work on their schoolwork when they come home from school. This area should be stocked with pens, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, and other items needed to study and complete homework. Checklists and parental supervision with homework may be needed, especially in younger children. As many children now submit work electronically, supervise computer and internet use. Discuss clear rules to eliminate electronic distractions including TV during homework time!
- First day: Many children can get anxious about new situations including a new school, new teachers or the first day at school. It is important to remember that schools are open before the first day, and can be visited ahead of time to familiarize the child with the school and ease his or her anxiety. These opportunities can also be used to address any concerns the parent has about the upcoming school year.