Back to School Tips for a Pain-Free Start
By now you’re feeling a bit guilty counting down the days, but while you adore your kids, truth be told, their lively frolics have left you bushed before your feet hit the floor in the morning. Tips for school? How about tips for parents’ sanity!
School. What once was (and will again become!) a cause of stress now seems a welcomed savior. But the transition remains far from painless. Here are some tips to get back to school with a healthy start, instead of adjusting in fits and starts.
S - Schedule. We’ve heard those who fail to plan should plan to fail. Preparing for school is no different. Although we’ve got many years of practice under our belt, somehow that first day of school sneaks up on us, leaving us weary and smacking that snooze button. Some call kids resilient, and they are to some degree. But kids (and parents!) require transition. Getting a healthy dose of sleep each night before they’re back to school offers all a chance to get a healthy start when that school bell rings. Ideally, start weaning them from late-night activities two weeks before the back to school date. Back up bedtime by 15- 20 minutes each night so that by the time school starts, they’ll be plenty tired for some good shut eye round prime time.
C – Check Ups. Schools require updated vaccination records each year. Most require a stellar physical at some point early in the school year as well. Unexpected illnesses keep kids from attending school, which may bring negative academic and social outcomes. Dr. Virginia Keane, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, notes, “All of these infections are still around, so your child is susceptible without being vaccinated.” She also recommends children and teens to get the flu vaccine.
H - Healthy Routine. Kids thrive on routine; it reduces stress and anxiety. But the key work here is healthy. Plenty of kids acquire unhealthy routines, such as spending endless hours glued to a screen in lieu of something to get their blood moving. Or eating sugar-laden snacks that deplete their energy, beef them up and dumb them down. Back to school means back to breakfast. Diana Sugiuchi, nutritionist and owner of Nourish Family Nutrition, suggests packing kids with protein and a complex carbohydrate. “The kinds of foods that you choose will make a big difference in the ability to concentrate and [in] energy levels,” she says. Vitamin B remains crucial to concentration and memory, assets for good school performance. Vitamin D protects against fractures, common in sports injuries. And it may play a role in reducing obesity and managing weight. Prepare snacks ahead of time and put them on a self-serve, eye-level fridge shelf. Pack a lunch or review the choices with you child with the school menu in hand to plan well. Struggle to get the fruits and veggies in? Consider a high-quality supplement your child will love.
O - Organized. - An organized space clears a disorganized mind! Help your child plan how to best use their book bag, desk space and papers. Click here for some projects and tips on helping your child to plan and organize for success and safety!
O - OCD. No, having OCD is not healthy. But a little OCD will go a long way when it comes to hand washing! Sniffles and snotty noses run rampant in schools and can bring on colds and flus that hamper learning and fun. Teach kids to wash hands after using the restroom, after recess and before meals. A little bit of soap and friction will go a long way.
L - Listen. This is not a physical health tip, but it trumps all of the other tips. Listening to your child–whether it be about a teacher, a report, a peer or a problem–will go a long way towards building a strong bond and a sense of trust. Listening keys you in to your child’s experiences and can only help you better understand their needs and desires. Most importantly, listen for successes and celebrate!