Many things are running through a parent’s mind this time of year. Back-to-school chaos and excitement are beginning, but a simple checklist can keep everyone on track and set the tone for the year – parents and kids alike.
Their checklist includes:
1. Review the immunization schedule to be sure they have received recommended shots.
“Vaccines are a key component of preventive medicine. You’re giving your child protection from diseases that otherwise might bring pain, permanent damage or even death,” she said.
Want to know more about the importance? Pediatrician P. Cooper White shares his thoughts in this video.
2. Establish a bedtime routine and sleep schedule. It can take up to 5 days for kids to reset their internal clocks after a summer of staying up late. Children of all ages need sound, uninterrupted sleep to grow, develop and function properly. Sleep guidelines are:
- Toddler: 12-15 hours, including naps
- Elementary-school age: 12-13 hours
- Middle-school age: 10-11 hours
- Teenage: 9 hours
3. Talk about nutrition and remind them to make good food choices when going to the vending machine, through the cafeteria line or packing a lunch.
“Breakfast is always really important in our house. Kids are more alert and do better in school if they eat a good breakfast every day,” Dr. Dwyer said. “Protein and carbohydrates are key.”
Guidelines in the 5-2-1-Almost None formula, recommended by dietitians, have been shown to help kids and adults prevent obesity, maintain a healthy weight, and improve their overall well-being.
4. Get organized early so everyone knows what is expected of them and when. This includes extra-curricular and class schedules, as well as homework, bedtime and morning time routines.
“Be sure to schedule ‘free time’ and family time too,” Dr. Dwyer said. “Kids need time to relax and be creative as well.”
5. Review the after-school plan and age-appropriate rules if they are staying home alone, such as what time they and you will get home, what to do in an emergency and specify who, if anyone at all, is allowed in your home when you’re not there.
6. Follow good personal habits for hand washing, covering coughs, using tissues, etc. “Good hand washing is the first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses and could save a trip to the doctor’s office,” she said.
7. Know how a bully acts and how to respond confidently to the threats. One in 4 public schools reports that bullying among kids occurs on a daily or weekly basis, and 1 in 5 high school students report being bullied in the past year. Learn the signs and what to do as well as how to bully-proof your child.
Dr. Dwyer advises parents of children who have a medical issue or are on medication to talk to the school nurse and teachers about it and how it needs to be managed during the school day.
You should also talk to teachers about other special recommendations in the classroom that would help your child succeed.
For example, kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should be seated in the front of the room, and a child with vision problems should sit near the board.