Prepare your child for the school year by introducing a routine and showing their new environment early! If your child is starting at a new school this year, consider visiting the school before their first day of class to see the building and surrounding areas. For young children, it can be helpful to even play on the playground a few times to become acclimated to the environment.
Review what your child’s transportation to school will be as well; if riding a school bus, visit the bus stop together and discuss safety, such as waiting for the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching. If riding a bike, discuss how to navigate traffic, follow rules of street lights and stop signs, and be sure to have a well fitting helmet ready for daily use. If walking, take a walk along their school path with them or see if other families in the neighborhood will be walking as well. For teen drivers, discuss safe driving habits and avoiding distractions such as cell phone use while behind the wheel.
Proper sleeping habits can have a significant impact on children and teens during the school year. Between the ages of 13-18 years old, 8-10 hours of sleep is needed; if younger than 13 years old, 10-12 hours is appropriate. A consistent sleeping schedule will facilitate adequate sleep to bolster concentration, learning, and academic performance. If the summer break has caused significant changes in sleeping habits, it is best to reimplement a healthy sleeping schedule before school starts.
Consider your child’s dietary needs during the school year: Breakfast with protein before the start of school has been proven to help kids function better throughout the day. Look at the school’s lunch menu to determine what healthy options are available or consider packing a healthy lunch for your child to take.
Set up an afterschool plan for your child: For children younger than 13 years old, be sure they have adult supervision afterschool, even if that means checking in with a neighbor if parents are not available. Consider what setting they’ll be doing their homework or studying in and remove distractions such as noise, television, or other screens.
Be sure to discuss some of the positives that may come with the start of the year, such as seeing old or new friends and discussing favorite subjects or classes. If you have questions about registration, additional help for your child, or any other concerns, reach out to the school early. For more information on important back to school topics such as backpack safety and bullying, check out these Healthy Children’s Back-to-School Tips. Wishing you and your family a happy and successful school year!
American Academy of Pediatrics Council on School Health. (August 11, 2023). https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/school/Pages/back-to-school-tips.aspx