Summer is officially coming to an end, so it’s time to think about school again. As you pick out new clothes and backpacks, here are some back-to-school preparations that can make a real difference in your child’s health and academic success this school year.
Get your child on a good sleep schedule – During the summer, we often let our children stay up late, which is fine if they can sleep late in the morning — but it’s not so fine when school starts. To avoid rude awakenings, get your child started on his school sleep schedule at least a week before school starts. Children should get 8-10 hours of sleep every night, so count back from when they need to wake up to find the right bedtime.
Plan healthy lunches and snacks – Use the end of summer to talk with your child about healthy food they can bring to school. Try out some new fruits and vegetables, find yogurts and cheese they like, look at recipes together, buy some containers to pack food and drinks to bring with them. If they have some time to plan with you and get excited, you may be able to avoid sending junk food and sweets.
Make an appealing homework place, and decide on a routine. They should have a quiet, well-lit, pleasant place to do their homework. For younger children, it should be where you can easily supervise. For all ages, the homework place should involve a desk or table, and should not be near a television. Fix the area up ahead of time, with things like a good lamp, a cup for pencils and pens and a pencil sharpener. Decide together when in the day your child will do homework. You can always change it up later if it doesn’t work out, but having both the space and the time in place on the first day of school gets things started on the right foot.
Plan activities – It’s important that your child be active, so signing up for a team sport or other physical activity can be a good idea, and it can be fun to learn to do something like draw or play an instrument. Sit with your child and plan out some after school activities. Be sure that there is enough time for homework and sleep — and be sure that there is downtime every day too. Your child needs time to relax and play no matter what their age. Every day there should be time that is unscheduled that your child can use in whatever way they want.
These things may seem basic and simple — but they are basic and simple things that not only can get lost in the shuffle, but that can be very effective when families do them.
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