As summer draws to a close, it’s time to start preparing your kids to go back to school. Getting ready for a new school year is about more than new school supplies and clothes. This Back to School checklist will help you make sure your kids are on track for a healthy and happy school year!
Dr. T’s Seven Ss of Back to School
During the summer, kids tend to stay up later. Whether they’re running around the neighborhood or staying up late watching the Olympics, it’s now time to start moving that bedtime back a little bit earlier. You want to start by pulling it back 15 minutes every few days to get back to that appropriate bedtime for school. Your kids need to get at least 10 hours of sleep — and that’s for High School students too. Your kids really need sleep. Three days before school starts, set the morning alarm, wake your kids up lovingly, and practice that morning routine. With a few days of practice, that first morning of school will run smoothly for everyone.
During the summer month the amount of screen time your kids get may be higher. Maybe your kids have been watching movies and the Olympics, or playing Pokemon Go, but now is the time to sit down as a family and decide what your media use and screen time rules are going to be during the school year. In my family we have a rule of no screen time on school nights and in other families the limit may be set at 1-2 hours a night, which is the recommendation. You also want to make sure you’ve got screen-free zones in your house, such as the kitchen table and the bedroom. One of the most important rules to follow is no media an hour before bedtime because that can really interfere with sleep. Start working on that “brain drain” of summer and have your kids read a book or study up on something fun like the history of the Olympics. Get their brains back to thinking and learning before that first day of school.
3. Sugar and Snacks
During the summer, I see a lot of kids are eating more sugary, “fun” foods, but on school days protein is really important. You want to decrease sugar in the morning and feed your kids a healthy and protein-rich breakfast of eggs and dairy products, or nut butters on whole grain bread. Protein-rich foods will help your kids to focus and concentrate during the school day and keep them full and energized longer. Pack some healthy snacks and plain water in their bags so your kids get used to drinking water throughout the day.
Every child needs to be up to date in vaccines — it’s a new California state law. A lot of parents are emailing me to get those shot records so be sure to check with your doctor and ensure that all shots are up to date before the back to school rush. Now is also the time to have your kid checked from head-to-toe. And don’t forget vision! Your kids can’t learn if they can’t see the board.
Be sure to pick a backpack that isn’t going to be too heavy. The rule of thumb is that your child’s backpack should not be more than ¼ of their body weight. You also want to make sure that the backpack has padded straps and really encourage your kids to wear their backpack using both straps. Some people like rolling backpacks but they don’t always fit in lockers and can be very heavy to carry up stairs.
6. Study Space
Your kids need a clean, organized space to do their homework and study in quiet. Keeping it clutter free and making sure there are no distractions in sight will go a long way towards keeping kids focused and engaged in their homework.
Back to school can be a stressful time for both kids and adults. Talk to your kids about any concerns they may have and run through the school day routine. Re-introduce them to old friends they may not have seen over the summer and encourage them to make new friends too. A few days before school starts, go to the school together, walk around and get a “lay of the land” so your child is more comfortable on that first day back.
Enjoy the last few days of summer and start putting your families’ back to school plan in motion now to ensure a smooth transition for all.
Watch a video segment of Dr. Tanya on KTLA 5 talking about preparing your kids for a healthy year here.