How To Get Into the Back-to-School Swing
The pediatric experts at Seattle Children’s Hospital helped me put together five steps to ensuring a healthy and safe start to the new school year.
“Back to school is understandably an anxious time for parents and children alike,” says pediatrician Dr. Ben Danielson at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Seattle. “By taking a few easy steps, parent’s can remove the stress associated with back-to-school and rest assured that their children are well prepared for a healthy and productive year ahead.”
1- Make sure your child gets enough sleep BEFORE school starts
Start getting your child to bed at a set time a week or two before school starts. I start getting my son to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until we’re back to our regular school-night bedtime. Remember that 6-to-9 year-olds need 10 hours, preteens need 9 hours, and teens need about 8 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep each night.
2- Make a Health List and check it twice
Get your ducks in a row now. Make sure your child’s immunizations are current. Ensure that you and the school are on the same page regarding medicine for your kids (whether they administer it themselves or not). Find out the school’s rules about medicine for kids old enough to handle monitoring and treatment at school. And,if your child is too young to self-administer, find out who handles medicines at the school and ensure they are familiar with your child’s needs. Schools like to have medicines in their original packaging, including the pharmacist’s instructions, so get an extra set and deliver it to the school personally.
3- Be prepared to handle curve balls
Work on a plan for how to deal with illness during the school year – sick children should stay home to prevent the spread of illness to others. If you and your partner work out of the home, do you have family, friends or caregivers whom can be called upon on short notice?
4- Have a trial run for the older kids who will be staying home alone after school
Having been a young latch-key kid of the 1970s, I can personally attest to the importance of creating a comfortable and safe-environment for your child if he or she is about 11 or older and will be spending time alone at home after school. Develop ground rules for your child to follow. Rules to think about setting: whether friends are allowed over, cooking rules, TV and computer rules, answering the door and phone, etc. I can’t recall if my own mother did this, but I think giving you’re a child a chance to practice being home alone before the school year starts is brilliant. (Thanks again, Seattle Children’s Hospital)
5- End the school day on a positive note
Young children especially get anxious about who will be picking them up at school or will someone be home to receive them when they get off the bus. As such, figure out your child’s transportation plan and before- and after-school care (if needed) and make sure you explain the plan to your child before the school day begins. Repeating the schedule will be comforting. We love Seattle Children’s Hospital’s idea to arrange your calendar so you can spend extra time with your child the first week of school; transitions can be hard and just being together in the evenings can help.
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