Weekly Clinical Service Dose: Back-to-School Tips
Making the First Day Easier
Develop a Sleep Routine
- Getting enough sleep is critical for a child to be successful in school. Children who do not get enough sleep have difficulty concentrating and learning as well as they can.
- Set a consistent bedtime for your child and stick with it every night. Having a bedtime routine that is consistent will help your child settle down and fall asleep. Components of a calming pre-bedtime routine may involve a bath/shower, reading with them, and tucking them in and saying good-night to them.
- Have your child turn off electronic devices well before bedtime.
- Try to have the home as quiet and calm as possible when younger children are trying to fall asleep.
- Insufficient sleep is associated with lower academic achievement in middle school, high school and college, as well as higher rates of absenteeism and tardiness. The optimal amount of sleep for most younger children is 10-12 hours per night and for adolescents (13-18 year of age) is in the range of 8-10 hours per night.
Eating During the School Day
- Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. They do better in school, and have better concentration and more energy. Some schools provide breakfast for children; if yours does not, make sure they eat a breakfast that contains some protein.
- Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home and/or have them posted on the school’s website. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat.
- Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
- Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10% to 20% of your child’s body weight. Go through the pack with your child weekly, and remove unneeded items to keep it light.
- Remind your child to always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
- Adjust the pack so that the bottom sits at your child’s waist.
- If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried upstairs, they may be difficult to roll in snow, and they may not fit in some lockers. And review backpack safety with your child.
School Bus Safety
- Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
- Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
- Make sure your child walks where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).
- Remind your student to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required. Encourage your child to actually practice how to cross the street several times prior to the first day of school.
- Your child should not move around on the bus.
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