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Back to School Tips

Dr. Angelique Redus shares some helpful information as your child heads back to school.

The Back to School season is an exciting time for children and their parents alike. It can also be stress inducing for families who have not prepared adequately. While enjoying the last few weeks of summer, families should spend some quality time setting their game plan for the upcoming school year. Here are a few tips to help you and your child get a head start on a productive a Back-to-School season.

Check out those Back-to-School sales!

Prior to the first day of school, make sure your child has all his or her necessary school supplies. For younger children, crayons, pencils, notebooks, scissors, and glue are but a few of the commonly needed supplies. Many schools will provide a basic list of school supplies prior to the onset of school. For the first day of school, have your child's items labeled and packed in their book bag, so they won't be scrambling for pencil and paper, as they get oriented.

The Wheels on the Bus...

If traveling to and from school by bus, talk to your children about always staying in view of the bus driver as they move on and off the bus. Also talk with them about the importance of remaining in their seats (with seat belts, if provided) during the entire ride.

If your child walks to and from school, try to arrange for them to walk with at least one other child. Make sure they know to listen closely to crossing guards who should be manning intersections. If there are no crossing guards along your child's walk to school, contact your school district so they can work toward providing them. Of utmost importance, discuss safety issues with your child as it relates to strangers. Have a plan that they can follow if approached by a stranger and encourage them to report any behavior that they may have witnessed that it suspicious or inappropriate.

If your child rides his or her bike to school, make sure they understand traffic laws as it pertains to bikes. They absolutely should wear a helmet and wear brightly colored clothing so that drivers can easily identify them.

Remind teens that plan to drive to school that they must wear their seatbelts at all times. Discourage the use of cell phones and other devices while driving. Limiting the number of passengers in the car will also help minimize distractions.

Food for Thought!

Eating breakfast is the best way to get the brain ready to learn. A healthy bowl of cereal, whole-wheat toast and fresh fruits are quick options that will do the job.

If your child packs lunch, be sure to include foods that are both tasty and healthy. Healthy lunch options include lean meat sandwiches on wheat bread, low-fat milk, fresh fruit or raw vegetables. Try to avoid carbonated beverages, high calorie juice drinks and high fat sweets.

Big Kids Need Sleep Too

Children between five and twelve years old need approximately ten to twelve hours of sleep per night. Children over twelve years of age should get at least eight hours of sleep. Make sure their bedtime routine includes preparing for the morning, so they get adequate sleep, have enough time for breakfast, and don't forget their homework!

Hitting the Books

Set and enforce guidelines for homework right from the start. Create a workspace for your child where they can complete their homework without distractions. Definitely keep the television off during homework time and allow your child sufficient time to complete his or her work.

Child Care All Day Long

As many parents have early and late work responsibilities, making arrangements to have a responsible adult watch your children before and after school is increasingly important. Many parents utilize daycare and aftercare services. For those who do not, they may utilize a home-based service or a family member who can care for their child during these hours of the day. As children get older, they often still need a significant amount of supervision. It should not be assumed that preteens are ready to assume the responsibility of being home alone. Once a parent has decided to have their child stay home alone after school, they should maintain close contact via telephone and have other emergency contacts available for their child.

Sticks and Stones

Bullying is a very real and particularly hurtful practice that is not uncommon in schools. It can have both physical and emotional affects and children. Most children at some point in their lives will have been a victim of bullying, a witness to bullying, or even the bully themselves.

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a news release on Back to School Tips that offers the following advice at it relates to bullying:

When Your Child Is Bullied

Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to:

  • Look the bully in the eye.
  • Stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation.
  • Walk away.

Teach your child how to say in a firm voice.

  • "I don't like what you are doing."
  • "Please do not talk to me like that."
  • "Why would you say that?"

Teach your child when and how to ask for help.

  • Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
  • Support activities that interest your child.
  • Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
  • Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child's safety and well-being when you cannot be there.

When Your Child Is the Bully

  • Be sure your child knows that bullying is never OK.
  • Set firm and consistent limits on your child's aggressive behavior.
  • Be a positive role mode. Show children they can get what they want without teasing, threatening or hurting someone.
  • Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges.
  • Develop practical solutions with the school principal, teachers, counselors, and parents of the children your child has bullied.

When Your Child Is a Bystander

  • Tell your child not to cheer on or even quietly watch bullying.
  • Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult about the bullying.
  • Help your child support other children who may be bullied. Encourage your child to include these children in activities.
  • Encourage your child to join with others in telling bullies to stop.

The Doctor Is In

A great way to ensure your child is fully ready to tackle the next school year is to have them get their yearly school physical. Whether to obtain clearance for sports participation, or to get updated on vaccines, a well-child visit can address important health issues that may impact their school year. Children with chronic illnesses such as asthma and ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder,) should be seen to ensure their management is optimized before the school year starts. Being proactive will often help minimize missed school days.

While the school year will inevitably have it's high and low points – its "gold stars", as well as its "incompletes" – setting a solid foundation will help them reach their personal best over the course of the academic year.


AAP News Release – Back To School Tips