Do you remember the pride you felt when you received a good grade on a school project as a child? Or how special it was to receive an award for perfect attendance or good citizenship? We all want our kids to experience accomplishments like these, and as parents, we play an important role in making every school year a success. Here are a few simple ways we can help our kids feel their best so they can DO their best every day at school.
Backpacks that are too heavy or ill-fitting are not just uncomfortable, they are dangerous. The fit is the most important thing to consider when selecting a backpack. It should not be wider or longer than a child’s torso and should be about 2 inches below the shoulder blades to around waist level. Also, kids should wear both straps to distribute weight evenly, and the best straps are padded to provide support. Finally, backpacks should not weigh more than 10% of a child’s body weight.
A common challenge for parents during the school year is packing a lunch their kids will actually eat. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, check out these back-to-school lunch ideas. Another thing to keep in mind is that kids are more likely to eat food they have chosen themselves. Involve them as much as you can in the process of selecting and preparing their packed lunch. It’s a great opportunity for spending time together and teaching them about making healthy choices.
Getting enough good quality sleep allows kids to stay focused and engaged in their schoolwork. A recent study on the impact of sleep shows a good night’s sleep protects against the negative effects of stress, which many children experience at the start of a new school year. Regular bed and wake times go a long way in establishing healthy sleep habits – consistency is always key. Electronics have a negative impact on sleep, so put those away before bedtime to help your kids wind down physically and mentally.
Speaking of electronics, it’s recommended that children (older than two years) spend a max of two hours a day in front of a screen. Being glued to the TV, computer or smart phone takes time away from physical activities and family time. Perhaps the most influential thing we can do as parents is model good habits, so if we reduce screen time, our kids will too. Take an evening walk, toss a ball around or ride bikes together. These simple activities will make wonderful memories for you and your children.
It’s so simple, yet so easy to forget about in the afternoon hustle – hand washing! On average, elementary school kids get eight to 12 colds or cases of the flu every school year. One way to reduce everyone’s risk for illness is by having kids wash their hands as soon as they get home from school. Classrooms are germy places, and the last thing you want is for those germs to be spread around the house. Remind them to wash their hands as often as they can while at school, too.
What’s Up Doc?
Back to school time is a great time to visit the pediatrician, dentist and maybe the eye doctor to make sure kids are in perfect health. Things like poor vision can sometimes go unnoticed, because kids may not know something is wrong. Yet, this is an issue that can lead to headaches, poor performance in school and even behavior problems. A good place to start is the pediatrician, who can advise when a visit to the eye doctor is needed.
One way to encourage your child to do their homework is by creating a work-friendly environment. The American Academy of Pediatrics says “children need a consistent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.” Create a little homework nook together with good lighting and no TV in sight. Also, having a regular time for homework every night is ideal, because it becomes part of a routine.
Heads Up on Head Lice
The mere mention of head lice makes every parent squirm, but relax, there are some things you can do to prevent it from spreading. First, start with teaching your kids to not share personal items like combs, hair accessories or hats. Tell them to avoid head-to-head contact with others, which is the number one way lice are spread. If your child’s school reports an outbreak, don’t panic, just remind them to not come into close contact with others or share belongings until the problem is contained.