By Robert W. Castillo, MD, Chief of Staff, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach
Just as Memorial Day weekend marked the start of the summer season, the rapidly approaching Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer and the beginning of the school season. Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach wants to ensure that this back-to-school transition goes as smoothly as possible for the entire family. Below are some tips to help keep anxiety levels down for both parents and children while preparing to go back to school:
Reset your child’s schedule before school starts
Try to transition kids into a consistent school night routine a few weeks before school starts. Establish a reasonable bedtime so that they will be well rested and ready to learn in the morning. Generally, children between the ages of 6 and 9 need about 10 hours of sleep a night, while preteens need a little more than nine hours. Start the bedtime routine at least one week before school begins.
Preventative health and keeping your school informed
Protect your child and family from illness and disease by participating in preventative health measures that allow you to play an active role in your family’s health. Make sure kids have all their immunizations done before school begins. This is not only required for school, but it helps keep your child healthy and protects them from preventable infectious diseases.
Inform your school nurse and teachers about any medical conditions your child may have, particularly food allergies, asthma, diabetes and any other conditions that need to be managed. Make sure your child understands what they need to do if they must take medication at school.
Keeping safe throughout the school year
With bikes and skateboards being the main method of transportation to and from school for many kids, wearing a helmet is critical to avoid head trauma should a fall or accident occur. Statistics show that riders who do not wear helmets are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident. It is important to make sure your child not only has a helmet, but that it fits properly.
Plan on packing lunches ahead of time. If your child eats in the cafeteria, check the weekly menu so you can pack a lunch if your child doesn’t like the main course. Also, remember that snacking between meals is not a bad thing. Young children actually need snacks, as they often don’t receive all the nutrients they need in a day through meals alone. Packing your child healthy snacks, or encouraging your older children to choose wisely from the vending machine, will help them concentrate in class. Be sure to choose snacks from a variety of food groups so your kids won’t get bored.
Remember that a fully packed backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight. Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back, and encourage your child to wear both shoulder straps.
By following some of these tips, parents can help ease their children’s transitions back to school so they can start the school year on a positive note.