Health Care Lifestyle

10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Back to School

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With another school year on the horizon, there’s no better time to start encouraging healthy habits for your child to help them start their school year on a positive note. Here are 10 ways you can help prepare your child for back-to-school season.

Re-establish Your Routines

Routines tend to become a bit looser during the summertime — and that’s OK. But as we near back-to-school season, it’s a great idea to slowly incorporate these routines again for your family. Determine a regular bedtime, set a morning alarm, limit screen time and establish a plan for homework and chores. Easing into these routines before the school year starts helps children settle back into their habits smoothly.

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Speaking of routines, encourage your children to begin their day with a healthy breakfast. Not only will they have more energy to get through the school day, but they’re also more likely to eat healthier overall, have improved brain function and less restlessness. If breakfasts aren’t part of your child’s typical morning routine, start incorporating them before the school year starts, to begin encouraging this healthy habit.

If your mornings are short on time — as most busy parents’ mornings are — don’t overthink the meal. Your child’s breakfasts don’t need to be gourmet or time-consuming. Grab-and-go items are perfectly fine as long as they’re nourishing. Keep individual yogurt or applesauce cups on hand and pair them with a banana, breakfast bar or dry cereal.

Other healthy, low-fuss breakfast choices include toast, cold cereal with milk, instant oatmeal or grits, fresh fruit and smoothies. And, when time allows, you can make double or triple batches of pancakes or waffles to freeze for easy morning meals throughout the week. If your kids are old enough to use the toaster, they can even reheat them independently.

Get School Supplies

Don’t wait until the day before school starts — get a head start on back-to-school shopping this year and cross it off your family’s to-do list. Set your child up for a successful start to their school year by sending them off to the first day of class with everything they’ll need to thrive. Plus, shopping for back-to-school supplies will often help your child feel excited for the upcoming school year.

Communicate With Teachers

Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher. Send them an email before the start of the school year and let them know if there are any specifics they should know about your child. Having an open line of communication as the year progresses will benefit all parties: parents, teachers and children, too.

Pack a Healthy Lunch

Pack your children’s lunches the night before to minimize the morning rush. You can make this an after-dinner routine and have your children help select their food for the next day, or you can pack lunchboxes after bedtime. Once you’re done, place the lunchboxes directly in your child’s backpack or refrigerate them if necessary, and they’ll be ready to go in the morning.

If your child is just beginning school, you can ease them into the lunchtime routine by providing packed lunches during the summer as well.

Create a Distraction-Free Space

For some kids, completing their homework is a breeze, but others may need more encouragement and assistance. If your child has difficulty focusing, creating a distraction-free space to focus on their assignments is essential. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a seat at the dining table or a dedicated study room, as long as it’s a quiet space where your child can complete homework and projects without getting side-tracked by toys, pets, television or other people.

Set Boundaries

With all the bustle the school year brings, it’s especially important to implement boundaries for your children. For example:

  • Set a curfew for older kids, especially on school nights
  • Limit screen time and explain that they must complete their homework and chores first
  • No playdates on school nights

Decide on the best boundaries for your family and stick to them.

Plan Outfits the Night Before

Minimize your morning rush in any way you can. One easy way to do so is by pre-planning your child’s outfit the night before. Take a few minutes each night before bedtime to set clothes aside so they’re ready to go for the next morning. If your children are old enough, have them incorporate this into their personal nightly routine.

Dedicate Time for Family

Schedules are often tight during the school year. Between homework and extra-curricular activities, it might be difficult at times to find time for other activities. Dedicate a regular portion of time, whether immediately after school, in the evenings or even on the weekends, to catch up with your children. Show them you’re interested in what’s going on with their lives and create the opportunity for open communication with them.

Back-to-School Physicals

Schedule your child’s back-to-school physical now and begin the school year on a healthy start. Back-to-school physicals are a great time to ask questions and update your child’s physician on anything about your child that may concern you. It’s also a convenient time to screen for common childhood conditions, make sure their immunizations are up-to-date and get an EKG screening if your child plans to play a school sport.

Helping Your Kids Feel Whole

If you’re looking for a pediatrician or family medicine provider, our specialists at UChicago Medicine AdventHealth can help your children with their back-to-school needs in a primary care visit.

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