Planning for Back-to-School: What to Do to Help Your Child Have a Healthy School Start
The start of a new school year is difficult for children, causing fluctuation in their schedules, and indirectly, their health. After a summer of staying up later with extra freedom to choose activities, school is a shock to their systems. Helping your child handle the adjustment of going back to school comes down to three primary areas: sleep amount and consistency, healthier lunches, and stress-free, after-school scheduling.
Many children are allowed to stay up later than usual during the summer because they don’t have to rise early in the mornings. This is fine on its own, but the trouble arises when children have to go back to getting up in the wee hours of the morning, five days a week. To combat this issue, it’s a good idea to begin working their sleep schedule back an hour at a time during the few weeks prior to school beginning. Getting them up an hour earlier in the morning will also ease them back into good habits and the change in their sleep. It makes it less of a shock to their bodies.
Once eased back into sleeping and waking earlier, it’s best to keep them on this schedule throughout the school year. Most children require 9 to 11 hours of sleep to keep their bodies and minds at optimum levels.
Healthy Lunch Options
Healthier lunches provide children the energy they need to make it through the school day and still be going strong afterward. With the added pressure of school on the mind and body, including foods rich in proteins and complex carbohydrates is best. Lunchboxes and lunch plates with compartments allow parents to include more than just the standard PB&J with chips. They can diversify into fresh veggies and fruits, as well as cheese chunks and hummus.
As chaotic and crazy as getting children off to school in the morning is, coming home is often equally convoluted. Having a set schedule for an after-school routine will help you and your children feel a little less crazed and a lot more comfortable. A few quick tips on scheduling after-school time include:
- Have a specific location near the front door for kids to drop their belongings. This prevents them from tossing their shoes, coats, and book bags all over the house.
- Create a space for homework and make its completion a priority.
- Provide snack and play time, but limit the amount of time in front of the screen near bedtime. The flashing lights and colors wake up the brain and make sleep more difficult to achieve.
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