Starting up a new school year can be exciting for kids, and a welcome relief for parents.
You’re prepared. You’ve dusted off the old back pack (or purchased a new one), picked up a few school supplies, shopped for a new outfit or two, and shared in the anticipation with your child about the coming year. If you still don’t think you’re 100% ready, here are items you’ll want to check off your list:
Connect with other parents. If you haven’t already done so, find out who’s in your child’s class this year. Get the skinny on the new teacher. Arrange a school carpool. It will clear up the unknowns, and those contacts will be a big help throughout the year.
Establish a routine. That includes bedtime. If your kids have been staying up late every night in the summer, it will be tough getting to sleep the night before school starts. Try an hour of quiet time before bed – without electronics or cell phone use – or quiet reading to wind down. Lay out clothes the night before, have breakfast planned and ready to go (simple, but nutritious, is best for time-strapped parents), so that the kids will be ready for carpool or the bus. Have a nutritious snack ready when your child gets home. And make homework a priority – with limits on video games and television viewing.
Get the kids checked out. Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease — five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever in 5- to 17-year-olds, according to the California Health Care Foundation. Make a dental appointment for an exam (it’s covered by most insurance plans, along with two cleanings per year.) And, if your child plays sports, they will most likely be required to have a physical exam before the first practice. Most schools require up-to-date immunizations, and you may be asked to provide paperwork showing that your child has all the necessary shots and vaccines.
Be proactive about protection. Speaking of sports, football and soccer season is a great way to let off steam, as long as it’s safe. Mouthguards, or mouth protectors, are a must for contact sports and should be a part of your child’s standard athletic equipment from an early age. (They make sense for non-contact sports as well, like gymnastics and skating.) Mouthguards help prevent injuries, including the loss of teeth, and can be purchased at the drugstore or sporting goods store, or at the dentist office. Your dentist can recommend the best option for you.
Meal prep for school. Performing well in school is harder when you’re hungry. Make sure your child has a healthy breakfast and that you have a plan for lunch, including meal tickets or lunch money. (Many children qualify for free or reduced price on food at school, including breakfast. Check with your school office.) If a cafeteria lunch isn’t an option for your child, pack a nutritious meal for them. Include healthy items like cheese sticks, celery and fruit, and avoid sugary foods.
Back to school time can be hectic for everyone, but with a little organization you’ll all settle into a rhythm that will feel natural in no time.