Back To School
Here we are again! “Back-to-School” can conjure up mixed emotions for kids and parents. The return to routine and re-connecting with friends is always exciting, but it’s hard to say goodbye to the relaxing and fun-filled days of summer. To help with the transition, we've put together some tips for children and families that are sure to come in handy.
Making sure your child gets all the sleep they need requires a bit of planning and it helps if they are involved in calculating their own bedtime. A short discussion that involves your child results in a (mostly) stress-free, non-rushed, breakfast-friendly morning.
Also, beginning in kindergarten, you can provide your child with a regular old alarm clock. The little ones will appreciate the “big kid factor” associated with both the object and the sense of self-sufficiency it provides.
The older kids need to NOT use their phones as their alarm clock. Phones should not be in their rooms overnight and screen usage should end one hour prior to sleep-onset for a decent night’s rest.
How much sleep does my child need?
Elementary School: 10-12 Hours
- Middle School: 9-10 Hours
- High School: 9-10 Hours
Though food intake advice has been around for decades, we're learning more and more that ideas around a carbohydrate heavy, "average American diet" have some pretty serious flaws. Though developing children definitely need carbohydrates for strength and energy, it's just as important to emphasize healthy fat and protein intake. Here's our take on back to school meal planning:
"The most important meal of the day!" A healthy start to the day is vitally important to active, growing minds and bodies. Make sure your child's breakfast contains:
- Protein — for growth
- Healthy Fat — a longer lasting energy source that keeps us from feeling hungry too soon
- Complex Carbohydrates — “slow sugar” from whole grains that releases gradually over the course of the morning
- Hydration — water is best! Avoid sugary drinks (“liquid candy”) which can lead to a blood sugar crash mid-morning, making your child tired, hungry, and/or grumpy!
Also, remember that your little one can help with lunch-packing starting in Kindergarten (or earlier). They are more likely to eat what they have helped to choose and create. You can discuss the components of a nutritious lunch while you “shop” for things in the kitchen. As an added parent bonus, they’ll be able to make their own lunches by the third grade (or earlier.)
Car seats, boosters, and seat belts are a must! Many accidents happen within a short distance of home. If your kiddo will be biking to school, make sure their helmet is well-fitting and will stay in place to protect their head in the case of an accident or fall.
Your child should know the rules of the road and how to use hand signals. Whether walking or biking, they must never assume a car will stop at a cross walk. Teach them not to enter the crosswalk until the cars are at a full stop and to be additionally cautious about cars situated to turn onto the street they are about to cross. Check out the following links for helpful transportation safety advice
Unfortunately, going back to school can feel a bit like diving headlong into the petri dish! Getting sick at school is a fact of life. Every year we pediatricians see an uptick in visits for colds, tummy troubles, any other (mostly) viral complaints that take the opportunity of closely-populated class rooms to spread.
There is no way to totally prevent this, but proper hand washing goes a long way. Normal (not-antibiotic) soap, warm water, and 30 seconds of time making sure all hand and finger surfaces are lathered and rinsed are the keys to good hand hygiene. Also, make sure your child has all the recommended vaccines for their age. Vaccines are the safest and most effective way to prevent dangerous communicable diseases.
Bullying is all too common in schools. With the prevalence of electronic devices and social media, children are being subjected to bullying on an almost continuous basis. We encourage you to empower your child to be an “anti-bully.”
We can help kids to feel less vulnerable, and more in control, when we teach them to be a force for good. Encourage your kiddo to eat lunch with another child who appears to be lonely or to invite someone to play on the playground. “Be the kindest kid at school today,” is a good way to send them off in the morning.
A culture of kindness at school is created one child at a time. Make sure your child can identify bullying as any negative words or actions that make another child feel bad about themselves. And make sure your child knows who to reach out to if they feel bullied or see another child being a bully.
Words: Dr. Patricia Sandstrom
Editing: Dr. Corey Fish