Dust off the backpacks and break out the books: school is (almost) back in session!
Whether you are counting down to the first day of school or soaking up the final days of summer, being a parent is hectic when it’s time to get back to school. From taking that last beach trip to buying the seemingly endless list of school supplies, there is a lot to be done before a new school year begins.
An important priority – certainly year round, but even more so when going back to school – is your child’s health and well being. New routines always take a little time to navigate, and it’s best to have a game plan to keep ahead of the changes a new school year brings.
At Pediatrics East, our doctors, nurses, and staff members find that, while this is a busy time, the start of a new school year is an opportunity to make healthy, smart improvements to your (and your child’s) life.
Here are our tips for a happy and healthy school year for your kids:
Set a Routine
For many of us, summertime can throw off normal routines. Late nights spent with friends and family can lead to relaxed mornings sleeping in. Even if your child had a summer filled with camps, playtime, and activities that resulted in a normal bedtime, the demands of school versus play are very different. When school comes around, it can be hard to get back to the daily grind.
To start getting back to your school-year routine, there is one thing that will be on your side: time. Consider taking at least a week, at minimum, before school starts back to get your kids to bed and up in the morning at a time that is typical for your school schedule. Remember, it is recommended that kids get, on average, at least 10 hours of sleep, plus naps for younger kids.
Along with sleep, scale back the typical summer activity – whether that is spending all day at the pool or indoors – to refocus on the types of exertion and brain power used at school. However, we don’t want to kill all your summer fun! Try playing games (like Monopoly for counting, or Scrabble or Boggle for spelling) or creative activities (like painting or drawing) to get your child thinking, asking questions, and experimenting.
Make Safety a Priority
Through the summer, kids are often cared for by adults – their parents, babysitters, camp counselors, lifeguards, and more – who are watching out for them around the clock. Of course, teachers and school faculty are always looking out for kids during school hours, but how can we prevent accidents that can happen to and from school?
Whether your child walks, bikes, rides a bus, or is taken by you to school, rules need to be established for safety at all times. Remind your child of safe routes to take when they’re walking or biking to school, and take them to be introduced to your school’s crossing guard. Similarly, introduce your child to the bus driver, and make sure they understand the rules of riding in a bus without causing too much noise or trouble.
If your child will be in a vehicle, remind them to wear seatbelts in the car. Lead by example by wearing one yourself, or talk to the parent, babysitter, or carpool pal who will be driving them and ask that seatbelts are buckled before driving.
Create Healthy Meals
One of the hardest components of getting back into a routine is making sure that meals are planned, healthy, and easy to assemble each day. While schedules and finances can get in the way of planning meals, it is a good start in the new year to try making at least one meal, if not more, at home. Kids learn from your good habits, and there is no better time to try out cooking and meal planning than a new school year!
With so many resources at your fingertips to plan meals, including recipes online and new services from Kroger to have your groceries packed up and purchased for you, it just takes a bit of thought and time to make your meals healthier and easier than ever before.
Especially as school arrives, think about how to fuel your child’s body for a full day at school. Keeping your child happy (and full!) goes a long way in how well they perform in classes and how they interact with others each day. For inspiration, check out this slideshow of lunch and snack ideas from Parents magazine.
Starting back to school also means starting back with sports. Practices are in full swing for football, soccer, cross country, and many more sports, making your schedule even busier.
Along with all the equipment that comes with these sports, be sure to get your kids equipped with items that will reduce injuries. Protective eyewear, mouth guards, and padding (such as shin guards for soccer or football pads) are all ways to avoid broken bones, cracked teeth, and any pain.
Additionally, as we know in Memphis, sporting events can get very hot. Make sure your child stays hydrated and eats well to avoid any fainting, dehydration, or becoming overheated.
With all the moving pieces that you juggle in your transition back to school, there is one thing that is certain: your doctors at Pediatrics East are here for you. With flexible hours at our locations and an easy system for scheduling your appointments, our team works with you to make check-ups as stress-free as possible.
When scheduling your check-up, be sure to have all information from your school regarding any immunizations and vaccines necessary. We are happy to guide you through any medical decisions for your child, and we look forward to welcoming you into our offices soon.
As always, Pediatrics East’s priority is the overall health and wellness of your child. During your appointment times, please ask us any questions you may have about how to manage the new school year, considering your child’s unique needs.
From our entire staff, we wish you and your family a school year that is enriching, fulfilling, and rewarding for all. We look forward to watching your child learn and grow in the year ahead!