Locally, school will be starting in only a few weeks. It's time be thinking about back-to-school physicals, getting into a routine again, and more.
Physicals and Immunizations
If your child is just beginning school, they will definitely need a physical and proof of immunizations prior to attending. Other ages/requirements vary based upon where you attend school and possibly any activities your student is involved in. It would be important to try to schedule these visits now, as our schedules really fill up in August!
So what do I like to focus on during a back-to-school physical? When I’m doing an exam, I’ll determine if any summer illnesses or injuries have occurred that could impact returning to school, sports participation, etc. I also check a number of routine-but-important things, such as growth and development, nutrition, and how children are adjusting to any life changes. I also make sure that all vaccinations are up-to-date.
Back to School Routine – Before School Starts
Oftentimes, summer break means summer camp, staying with relatives during the day, going to various lessons and activities, etc. So, in the last few weeks before school starts, it’s a good idea for the whole family to start trying to rebuild a routine.
Here are some tips for getting back into a school routine. At least a week before school starts:
- Re-establish bedtime and waking routines. Depending on age, most children need 8-10 hours of sleep… younger kids tend to need the higher amounts. Instead of TV in the morning, have your child enjoy more constructive activities that will help them “reprogram” for learning, such as puzzles, reading, educational games, etc. Start weaning them off the video games as well.
- Begin to re-establish a regular meal schedule. Breakfast is essential. Be sure it’s healthy and low in sugar. Eat fruit, rather than drinking juice, as juice is high in sugar. Avoid sugary cereal. I also recommend people eat whole grains and a little protein at breakfast (nuts, peanut butter, eggs, yogurt, milk) to have more energy and stay focused longer.
- Be sure to review any school schedules that are sent home for important dates and events. And get that supply/clothes shopping done early! Perhaps you can get it done more than a week before school starts, so you can enjoy the last few days of summer without being rushed.
Remember that with school starting, there will be more traffic. It will not only take you longer to get places, but there are greater safety hazards around schools with kids being out and about. Remind your children about being safe among cars, how to cross roads and streets safely, etc.
When it comes to extracurricular activities, think quality over quantity. The school year can start out gradually academically (less homework) but has a way of building. Your child’s studies are important, as is time for chores, family time and even “down time.” So activities shouldn’t be so numerous that any of these other priorities suffer.
During the first week of school, parents should help to reduce stress by limiting their child’s activities. Try to keep evenings as non-rushed as possible.
- Make lunches the night before so mornings are less hectic. You can even use weekends to wash produce, sort servings into baggies, etc. so in the mornings, you’re just grabbing baggies and containers that have already been prepared.
- Make sure you stock up on healthy foods.
- Get the “schedule” ironed out…. Who is supposed to be where after school, what do they need with them (gear, music, etc.) and have a family meeting at the beginning of the week to figure out schedules and transportation.
- Start the beginning of the school year with having a dedicated space and time for homework. You need a well-lit room, space to spread out and minimal distractions. I personally like the “house-rule” of no TV or video games until homework is done.
First Day of School Anxiety
Whether it’s a kindergartener who isn’t sure what to expect, or a teenager entering high school who’s feeling a little intimidated but won’t admit it...if your child has separation anxiety or lots of tears, try to stay calm and positive. If you react strongly, it may make the child more upset. Providing plenty of reassurance that you love them and that you’ll be back is good, but reinforcing your child’s ability to cope and adjust is just as important.
Remind them of all the positives: the friends they’ll get to see and meet, the fun activities that will happen, etc. Make their favorite breakfast in the morning, and pack their favorite lunch. Tucking a note in the lunch bag is a nice idea. At the end of the day, make sure that you take the time to recap their day, and focus on what went well as much as anything that’s bothering them. Praise them for how they did that day.
Be sure to let your child’s teacher know if the child is feeling anxious, so he/she knows to help with the transition.