Heading back to school after a summer break can be challenging for both students and parents. The easiest way to avoid difficulties – and to keep kids healthy – is to plan ahead. Here are 9 ways to tackle your back-to-school plan.
1. Get to know the school and staff
Familiarizing yourself and your kids with the school property, teachers, counselors and principal before the students’ first day can help relieve anxiety or uncertainty surrounding the start of the school year. Schools often hold orientations or meet-and-greet events over the summer, which are perfect opportunities to grow more familiar with the school and its staff.
2. Send kids to school with toothbrush and floss
Try putting together a basic dental care kit to send to school with your child, including a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss, and encourage her to brush her teeth after lunch. Seeing the kit in her school bag, in addition to having these dental hygiene tools readily available, helps reinforce healthy oral hygiene habits. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits will help prevent tooth decay and keep your child’s smile healthy.
3. Plan and pack healthy meals and snacks
Not only does your child need balanced meals at home and at school, but he also needs access to nutritious snacks that will help keep his body strong and his mind focused. Packing a healthy lunch and snacks for your child to take to school can help him avoid the unhealthy treats found in vending machines like sugary sodas, greasy potato chips and cookies. Healthier snack ideas include apple slices, baked chips or whole grain crackers, low-fat string cheese and nuts.
4. Pick up supplies in advance
Allow time to gather any necessary materials, like school supplies, uniforms or clothing, backpacks and lunchboxes, in plenty of time before the school year begins. Avoiding any last-minute shopping will help reduce the stress of back-to-school preparations. Include your child in the process of planning and selecting supplies. Allowing them to get familiar with the supplies needed and to select a few favorite items can help replace anxiety with excitement for the coming school year.
5. Ask your child to help you make the back-to-school plan
By involving your child in creating a plan for the transition back into the school year, you encourage your child to take ownership of the plan. It allows her to share in the responsibility of making the plan and can empower her to make choices that work best for her, such as whether she’ll play or do homework in the afternoons immediately after school.
6. Gently guide your child into a school schedule
Transitioning from a more relaxed summer sleep schedule to a school-year bedtime routine can make for a (literal) rude awakening. Start a test-run of your school-appropriate schedule at least one week before your child’s first day at school, incorporating healthy habits into both your nighttime and morning routines, including flossing.
To make your test run even more effective, wake your child at the same time each day and include all the steps it will normally take to get everyone out of the house. Easing into the new routine bit by bit will help ensure that your child gets enough sleep and will help the whole family manage their time better in the morning when it’s time to get out the door.
7. Create a home base where all school supplies will live
How many times have you been ready to leave the house when your child says, “I can’t find my [insert essential school item here].” Create a space that can serve as the one central location where all school-related supplies can rest, from backpacks to lunchboxes to pencils to homework. You could even include a checklist of items to grab before walking out the door.
8. Make sure your child has a buddy
Your child will be happier about going back to school if he has a familiar friend (or a few). Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk or ride the bus to school. Because summer break can mean that young friends see each other less frequently, it’s important to reconnect before school begins again with play dates, an end-of-summer barbecue, or other fun event. Nurturing connections with their peers can help children feel more comfortable in a changing environment as they gear up to get back in the classroom.
9. Stay calm and positive
Children pick up cues from their parents regarding how to behave under different circumstances. If you are stressed about your child starting or going back to school, it’s likely that your child will feel stressed, too. However, if you remain calm, positive, reassuring and supportive, your child will likely feel much calmer about starting school.
The more thoroughly you prepare for your child to transition away from the carefree days of summer and into the structure of the school year, the more at ease the whole family will be when the first day of school finally arrives.
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Dental Association
Note: Article is posted on Colgate site, but information is from the ADA.
- Huffington Post