With the school year starting in September for many, lots of children are already half-way through their summer holidays. For some parents this can be a blessing, but how can you make sure your little ones are ready to go back-to-school without a mad rush at the end of August?
We offer eight tips on how to ensure the healthiest, best start for the new school year.
1. Schedule a health check
A back-to-school checkup can identify any potential health problems, clear your child to play sports, and is a good time to update their vaccinations.
2. Check the route to school
If your children will be going to school alone, walk the route with them a few times before their first day. Point out safe crossing points and be aware of any hazards along the way. You should also inform their school they will be walking alone, some schools have a buddy system in place so children from the same area can walk together.
3. Start the routine early
School holidays often mean staying-up later and longer lie-ins the next morning. About a week before the start of school start putting your children to bed at a normal time for a school night and waking them up as if it were a regular school morning.
4. Get the brain going
A summer of lazy days and perhaps a little too much screen-time can leave the brain rusty. Introduce pop-quizzes into your daily routine, ask your children to spell things you see around you, have a race through the alphabet picking a capital city for each letter, or get them totting up your shopping bill as you buy groceries.
5. Adapt mealtimes
Younger children especially need time to adjust to eating times which match their school day. Plan meals and snack times to mimic a school day as much as possible. Start by having a hearty breakfast and then a small snack mid-morning before lunch, if this is what their school allows.
6. Weigh the school bags
Carrying heavy textbooks around all day is not good for children’s backs, and in schools which don’t provide an individual locker or desk for storage, the weight of a backpack can lead to back pain. The weight of a backpack should be no more than 10-15% of your child’s weight. Encourage your child to wear the pack correctly, using both shoulder straps. Alternatively, consider a bag with wheels, but check if your school allows this type before you buy one.
7. Get excited about lunch
A nutritious diet equals a healthy and attentive student. If your child will be taking packed lunches to school get them involved in planning them. A week or so before school starts go shopping for their lunch ingredients and snacks. Try new spreads for sandwiches, different fruits, and investigate some healthy snacks for playtime.
8. Plan back-to-school shopping
Dust off last years bags, uniform, stationary, and lunch boxes. Check what needs replacing and whether you need anything addition – a transition to middle or high school can mean additional uniform and stationary. August is the second busiest month for clothing retailers and back-to-school sales can begin as early as mid-July. Plan early and stock up in the sales to save some money, and stress nearer September.
Image: Back to School by Avolore (CC BY 2.0)