Five Tips For A Healthy Back to School

It’s that time of year again – time to send the kids back to school. To help smooth the transition, here are five tips that will help your kids start school off on the right foot, and help them stay that way throughout the school year. It’s not just about the pens, notebooks, binders and backpacks!

1. Get a good night’s sleep. Studies show that not getting enough sleep can greatly decrease a child’s ability to learn. Children at different ages have different amounts of sleep needed per night. Follow these general guidelines when determining how much sleep your child should get:

  • Ages 3-5 need 11-13 hours of sleep.
  • Ages 5-10 need 10-11 hours of sleep.
  • Older children and teens need betwee 8.5 and 9.25 hours of sleep.

2. Establish routines. Most children function better when they know what to expect, and what is expected of them. A routine daily schedule is especially helpful for anxious children, children on the autism spectrum or with other conditions. Establish a routine that works best for your family, and you might just find that your mornings (and evenings) run more smoothly and calmly.

3. Prepare healthy meals. Studies show that a good breakfast is the best way to start anyone’s day. A healthy lunch is equally as important for kids to maintain their energy and learning power throughout the school day. Consider these tips when preparing for your children’s lunch. What better way to have your child eat healthy at school than to pack inventive lunches?

  • Alert your child’s school to any food allergies before an allergic reaction becomes an issue.
  • Be creative with packed lunches. A brown bag lunch doesn’t have to be a sandwich and chips.
  • Fresh cut fruit and veggies, cheese, and hard cooked eggs pack and travel well, and are healthy lunch choices.
  • Kids love dips. A small container of yogurt to dip fruit, or hummus with veggies will thrill most children. They may not even realize how healthy they are eating!

Bonus breakfast tip – Consider preparing quick breakfasts on the weekend for ‘grab and go’ foods on those busy mornings.

4. Prepare the night before. Help get the kids out the door more quickly and smoothly by completing tasks the night before that you might otherwise do in the morning. This will help both you and your child get out the door less frazzled and better prepared to take on the new school day. Consider doing these tasks the night before:

  • Repack backpacks. Once homework is completed, repack backpacks and place them near the door you will leave out of. Include signed permission slips and forms, or other necessary documents.
  • Round up any necessary musical instruments and sports stuff needed for the next day and place with the backpacks.
  • If your child packs lunch, prepare as much as possible before bedtime. Snacks and drink bottles can easily be set up the night before.
  • For younger kids, or kids who may need the extra help, lay out their clothes for the next day.
  • Make breakfast plans and set out non-refridgerated items. Get a jump on the morning food rush and save precious morning time.

5. Create and post a weekly calendar. Calm the weekly chaos by preparing a calendar. Then talk about the coming days’ activities with your kids at a time that works best for them. Perhaps it is over dinner. Perhaps it is when you are getting backpacks ready. Find what works best for your family and include calendar review in your daily routine. Here’s a few suggestions to setting up your own family calendar:

  • Use a white board that can be easily modified during the week.
  • Post the calendar in a central location that is easily visible to everyone.
  • Include both family and school activities.
  • Have a unique color code for each child so everyone can have a better visual of their own activities.

Creating a weekly calendar not only gives you a snap-shot of the week, it also is especially helpful for an anxious child to “see” what is happening this week.

Do you have any tips you would like to share? Let us know in the Comments section below.

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